Parenting is tough but the rewards are priceless. (Desiree Panlilio).
Parenting is tough, and just as we are gaining understanding of our small child, they become a tween and then a teen. As a parent we feel like we were left in the minors while our children have moved into the major league. The nuances and dynamics of our teen and their world is something of a mystery. Yes, we were all teens at one point, but what our teen is going through and how they experience it is unique and individual to who they are. Afterall, not many parents were a teen during the pandemic, and our ability to engage in current events around the globe was not nearly as far reaching as it is today. However, here are some general tips for parenting your teen.
Our role as a parent shifts towards mentoring, building critical thinking skills and encouraging independence as your teen matures. However, your teen craves the security of knowing you understand them, appreciate them, and love them no matter what. As a parent we have to navigate this changing role and not “tell” our teen what to do, but to have a conversation on the rationale behind our reasoning. As a parent if you can do this, your teen is more likely to open up and share with you. There are still times when you will have to pull rank and say “no”. At times your teen will be looking to you to set limits they can’t set for themselves. Parents are the best scapegoat for resolving peer issues among teens.
Be sure to check in every single day. A few minutes of conversation while you’re cleaning up after dinner or right before bedtime can keep you tuned in and establish open communication. Even teens who seem to have forgotten who their parents are the other 23 hours a day often respond well to a goodnight hug and check-in chat once they’re lounging in bed. In addition to these short daily check-ins, establish a regular weekly routine for doing something special with your teen, even if it’s just going out for ice cream or a walk together. In our family we had date nights: no phones, just connection. Today, in our family that connection is the form of video chats and daily texts. It is making sure you are available to and for your teen. Communication is the relationship.
Your teen wants to be the best version of themself. Our job as parents is to support our teens in doing that. But don’t expect your child to achieve goals you decide. Your teen needs to begin creating their own goals with the support of parents who believe that they can do anything they want to. Helping your teen write goals and encouraging and holding them accountable to that goal’s achievement builds your teen’s self-confidence and self-worth. The goal of parenting is to raise strong-minded, responsible, caring young adults (that move out of your house) who create a life that is independent of us, their parents.