As our children grow up everything starts to change. No sooner do we start feeling confident that we have this ‘parenting-lark’ sussed – that the goalposts start changing.
Here are some pointers that will help you embark on the next stage, ( as your child embarks upon adolescence, ) with less trepidation.
1. Avoid All The Negative Hype : What irritates me beyond belief is all the negative press that teenagers seem to get.
“They are rude, selfish, self-absorbed’ individuals.” WRONG! Teenagers are just young people who are trying to find their way in a world where they don’t quite understand the rules ( sound familiar? )
Most teenagers I know are NONE of these things – they are charming, amusing and thoughtful young people who deserve much more credit than they are receiving at present. We, as their parents need to support them. Believe me, by ignoring these stereotypical labels you are likely to enjoy the teenage years a lot more.
2. Avoid Feeling Guilty : As I alluded to above – the goalposts keep changing and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. We aren’t always going to get it right – but that’s OK. Let’s ditch the guilt – it serves no-one.
3. Avoid Yearning For That Empty Nest : I recently heard a parent say … “This ( parenthood ) is so difficult – the sooner they leave for Uni and I get my life back the better!” Be very careful for what you wish for! Why have kids in the first place if you just want them gone? It is our job to create a happy family atmosphere – and if things really ARE as difficult as you think – then seek professional help… but don’t blame your teenager. They are likely to be struggling just as much.
4. Avoid Striving To Being A Super-Parent : Life is not like The Waltons! We do not have to have wholesome meals on the table and clean clothes airing on the line on a daily basis. Life can be topsy-turvy at times and it’s OK to embrace that. A home is all about LOVE and not clean skirting boards and a pot-roast in the oven.
5. Avoid Putting Everyone Else First : As parents we are wanting to make sure everyone is happy – that’s natural and commendable. But when you place yourself too far down your own agenda – you are sending 2 messages :
1 ) You don’t matter as much as everyone else
2 ) It’s important to put others first all the time
What sort of message is that sending out to your child, that they/we aren’t as valuable as others?
“I wish life had a rewind button.”
6. Avoid Regretting Past Mistakes : Sure, there are always things we wish we had handled better. But you are right where you need to be – right now. Your past decisions ( and mistakes ) have brought you to this point. Do not beat yourself up. So long as you are still communicating and respectful of one another – you are heading in the right direction.
7. It’s OK To Feel Confused and Hormonal Too : Teenagers do not have the monopoly on feeling confused and distracted with life. We are allowed to have our bad days too!
8. Embrace the Uncertainty – It’s OK Not To Feel In Control : Just because we are the grown up – does not mean that we have it all figured out! We are allowed to mess up and feel out of our depth. That’s what life is all about, the ups and the downs. Oftentimes – we get our biggest breakthroughs when we feel this way. We can shock ourselves at our own wonderfulness, when we begin to realise our true potential in tricky situations.
9. Don’t Feel You Have To Justify Yourself : There’s no need to feel that you have to measure up. Parenting styles can differ, greatly. Many people are pushing their own agendas, and whilst you might not agree with their decisions, it does not mean that they are wrong. The same applies to you. Its all about choice. Parenthood is NOT a competition. We are all in it together. In the end – we ALL just want what’s best for our kids.
10. Do Not Suffer In Silence : If you are struggling and you are not sure which way to turn – then give yourself some slack and look for support. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help. You do not have to navigate parenthood all on your own. That said – trust your own instinct. Remember, do whatever works for you and your family. Advice is great – but it is just another person’s opinion.
“Failure is success – if we learn from it.”
11. Avoid The Fear Of Failure : There’s No Such Thing As Failure – Only Feedback. This fear of getting things wrong ( and looking bad ) often stops us from taking risks or accepting challenges. It’s important to do what needs to be done – and that often mean moving out of your comfort zone.
12. “You Are Their Parent And Not Their Friend” : Yes. BUT – that does not mean that you cannot be their friend as well. My friends are straight up with me and tell me what I need to hear. The very fact that they ARE my friends, reminds me that they have my best interests at heart and therefore I WILL listen to them. So whoever said you cannot be both (in my opinion) may be needing that “distance” in order to maintain their own “authority”. Experience has told me that parenting a teen is a double-act. A bit like learning ballroom dancing – to begin with we get a lot of the steps wrong – but soon enough it starts to take shape. AND, you are most definitely allowed to enjoy each other’s company along the way! Parenting a teen does not have to be a “them and us” situation.
13. Rules Are There To Be Broken : Whilst rules and regulations are important – and kids thrive when there are boundaries; they do not have to be written in stone. We all need a degree of flexibility. Once in a blue moon – it’s OK to allow your teen to go to a concert on a school night ( so long as common sense prevails. ) Maybe there are worse things than allowing them to dye their hair blue during the summer holidays.
14. Avoid Perfection : Accept and enjoy the chaos and messiness that your family is. That’s just as it should be. It’s a bit like your old teddy bear : Comfortable – Falling apart at the seams – Reassuring – Held together with Love.
15. Avoid Comparison : What do they say? “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” When we start to compare ourselves to others – we begin to highlight our perceived inadequacies, diminishing the fun we need to help us nurture these relationships. How liberating to relinquish the need to strive to meet other people’s expectations.
“The main problem with teenagers –
is that they’re just like their parents were at their age.”
16. Avoid The ‘Obvious’ Battlegrounds : A child’s messy bedroom is regularly the source of many arguments. Why? Just because your exacting standards are incompatible with your child’s ideas of what is acceptable is not necessarily grounds for daily disagreement. Sometimes these things don’t matter in the long run. What really matters is their character, their health and their happiness.
17. Avoid being a Know-It-All : Kids, especially teenagers, can spot a bullshitter a mile off. Let’s face it – as parents, we don’t have all the answers, and nor should we claim to have them. If you are willing to grow together then your relationship will become so much stronger because of it. Give it a try.
18. AVOID Lectures : Simple as that! If you continue to ‘nag’, your teenager will withdraw and stop listening. They do not like being told what to do. Conversations, at this stage in parenthood, are better when they are two-way. Brainstorm possible solutions and listen to your child.
19. Avoid Putting Yourself Out To Grass : Follow your own dreams. By pushing yourself too and focusing on your own personal development, you set an example to your child that life is for living, that it’s exciting. By exposing yourself to new challenges, it reinforces that we ALL need to learn and sometimes, make mistakes along the way. When we have goals and a renewed sense of purpose, the world is a much more exciting place to be … that’s the path the happiness.
20. Don’t Jump to Conclusions : When you make assumptions about your child’s behaviour and intentions, chances are that they may not be 100% correct. Worse still, it shows them that you don’t trust them completely ( I know, I know – you’re not supposed to ) But do give your teen the benefit of the doubt. Have faith. Your teen is a work in progress and allow them to develop at their own pace…. Most of us turn out OK in the end.
Much Love 💕