Parenting a teen is enough to turn your hair gray overnight. Sometimes it can seem like you’re raising Jekyl and Hyde. Everything is going ok, then suddenly it’s not and they hate you. You don’t understand! Well, the time to start understanding and building the bonds you need to hold your teen to you was years ago, but if you’re just starting now, well, people CAN change.
Teens may want a buddy parent, and they really need a boss-parent, but there’s a happy medium. They need firm limitations, but also a calm and guiding light – a safe person in their life. They want you to be interested in them (even as they push you aside), and especially in this day and age they need someone to hug them and help them through tough spots and the inevitable mistakes in judgement. Not to mean fixing things up for them, rather helping THEM to think things through and take the responsibility for their decisions. We tend to learn best by experiencing consequences, within reason… you do want your child alive.
We had an “experience” recently that was worrisome to us as parents. Our child was guilty of being in a bad spot. Being in a bad spot can lead to temptation as well as guilt by association. Being in a bad spot can get you into big trouble. Although we were angry we listened to her, trying not to attack her judgment yet helping her understand the seriousness of the occasion and our expectations. We had to try VERY HARD to listen and to control our anger. I had to remind her that we would be more than happy to come get her out of a bad situation, and that she can freely use “big, bad parents” as an excuse to help avoid getting into a bad situation. Oh, there is so much to talk about with your teen to help prepare them for the trials and temptations of the world.
One bit of “parenting your teen” advice I read about somewhere: if your child comes home after you have gone to bed, have them come into your room and kiss you goodnight. That way, you know they have returned safely and you can smell them. Yes – it can be very important to smell what your child has been up to!
Letting your teen know that you love and care for them, are interested in their life, and that you are there to help them if they get in a bad spot will go a long ways towards keeping the Jekyl around. We all have our values, but being harsh and judgemental will only drive your child away. You want to make them feel ok about confiding in you, then guide them with your values. So easy to say… but, hopefully you’ll survive the teen years without too much trouble and end up with some laughs and happy memories.