We have all been through the teen years. They are not easy. Guess what? They are not much easier the second time around. This time, I refer to parenting teens. I am a mom of three teenage daughters right now, with a few more beauties on the way. Here is my best advice (keep in mind, it’s a work-in-progress):
Listen more than you talk.
It’s easy to get into a bad habit of lecturing and nagging your teen. After all, we parents have the experience to share and want the best for our kids. They really should listen, but we were teens once, and we didn’t listen either. Take time to really listen to your kid, ask leading questions and then let them tell you all about it. Keep advice to a minimum and keep it simple.
Tell truths your kids can trust.
Kids should be able to trust their parents. Don’t ruin this with a bunch of lies, even white lies. If something is going to hurt your child, tell them as much. If something tastes bad or good, be honest. When your young child trusts your word, your teen will know he or she can trust your word.
Don’t compromise your values to be cool.
Stay true to the morals you want your kids to own as adults. I want my kids to like me, but it is more important that they respect and love me. Giving in to their demands or even to their desires won’t accomplish anything other than creating bratty or spoiled kids. Your teen wants you to stick to the limits created for them; it shows you really care.
Be a role model.
My mom is my best friend, but I am in my forties. She definitely wasn’t my best friend when I was a teen. She did, however, show me what makes a strong woman and mother: hard-working, long-suffering, loving, limit-setting and engaging. Choose sitters or other trusted young adults to supervise your kids when you cannot; yes, teens still need supervision.
Love them through it.
Love always wins. No matter what, let your kids know you love them, wherever they are, whatever they do. If life is short, childhood is even shorter. Don’t spend your days nagging. Make your expectations clear, but always let your child, your teen, your adult child, that you love him or her, no matter anything. On the other side of the teen years, you want your kid to remember the love more than anything else.
No matter how many times you have to traverse the teen years (my total will be seven times – my own plus my six kids), be patient and keep trying to do your best. Life is full of tests, and lessons. Both actions and words are important. I hope my tips help you in some small way, today or in the long run.