The teen years are tough, but they can also be a great time to be a family and experience life. Use the following tips to help you through the more difficult times.
1. Leave your teens room to breathe and grow. It’s hard to give your kids enough space when you are expecting something to go wrong or think they are going to mess up. Hhowever, learning from their own mistakes is far more effective than being overly restrictive. Let them have their space, give them a little freedom and work with whatever happens.
2. Prioritize rules and pick your battles based off that. Having 1001 rules to abide by will obviously not work, despite the fact that your teens may do 1001 things that make you pull your hair out. Decide which rules are most important to the well-being of your teenagers and focus mostly on those. Having a few major rules and being very serious about them should suffice.
3. Know who your teens hang out with. The company they keep regularly can tell you a lot about what your teens are really up to. Make a point of meeting them, asking them over for dinner or offering them a ride home and quietly evaluate. Trust your instincts without judging too harshly and speak with your teen right away if you have strong reasons for wanting to prohibit their interaction with someone.
4. Avoid making rules as you go. Although it’s hard not to say “Stop!” 50 times a day, or drop “Because I’m the parent and I said so!” when questioned, make sure you are consistent with your expectations and not changing them based on your mood or patience. When we are frustrated as parents, we tend to overreact and extend our rule beyond the norm. That can be really tough and confusing for teens.
5. Hold your teens accountable to you. If you ask them to be home at a certain time and they’re late without calling, react strongly. When they make you a promise or tell you they are going one place and actually go to another, allow yourself some calculated and controlled anger. If you do not keep your teen in constant check and demand accountability for their actions, things could quickly get out of control.
6. Talk about sex, drugs and drinking. Does any parent ever really want to talk about these things? Probably not. We’d like to think it’s not necessary because our little angels would never get involved with things so far beneath their outstanding judgement and character. In reality, discussing these behaviors and their dangers are an absolute necessity. Use your own standards and philosophies or even religious implications if applicable, but make sure you talk about sex and substance abuse and are thereafter open to questions.
7. Be sure you’re standing on strong moral grounds. Living by the same rules you set for your teens is of the utmost importance; it’s hypocritical to ask them to do as you say and not as you do and frankly, that doesn’t work. Your morals will quickly come into question if you exercise poor judgement, despite the fact that you are only human. Set the best possible example you can and it should benefit your children for the rest of their lives.
While your teens may sometimes get out of hand, they are still your babies and as such, will always be loved and supported; let them know that often with your words and your deeds.