5 Tips for Parenting Teenagers
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Parenting teenagers can be one of the toughest jobs in the world. But if you keep these 5 important concepts in mind, you’ll find they help you with challenges both big and small.
1. The relationship is the most important thing. Parenting requires many different kinds of interactions with our kids. We provide for them, feed them, share our morals and values, inspire them, teach them about the world—and sometimes protect them from it, and love them. Many of these elements of parenting can be gotten from more than one source, but the one that is completely unique to you… is you. Your child needs a life-long, strong, healthy, communicative relationship with his parents! In all interactions with your teenager, remind yourself that the overall priority is to keep the lines of communication open, and the relationship as positive as it can be.
2. It’s our job as parents to help prepare our kids for the real world. Parents typically want to protect our kids from the evils and heartbreaks that exist out there. That’s normal and healthy and generally encouraged. But. Our other very important job is to help our children acquire the skills, habits, resources, and strength to be able to handle the problems of the world on their own. We can’t protect them forever, so we’d better equip them. Start now.
3. Let go a little bit every day. At some point, our children will be on their own: their own house, their own money… managing their own lives. The best way to help them get ready for this inevitability is to give them a little bit of responsibility, power, control, and experience every day. Parents need to share their power with their teenagers. Give them a greater and greater role in making their own decisions.
4. Parents are experts on long-range success, but teens generally are the experts on short-range success. This is almost always true socially, and is often also true with short-term academic success. In other words, yes, you probably do know best how to dress for a job interview and what quality level of work will be required in college. But your teen often knows the intricacies of their English teacher’s makeup work policy, and certainly what kinds of clothes will help them to blend in with their friends and make sure they have a place to sit at lunch. Both are important. Remember to give your teen credit (and some freedom) to manage their short-term success.
5. The single best way to get your kid to change is to let them see you changing. The power of role modeling cannot be overstated! There is a lot of power in acknowledging that—even though we’re the parent!—we’re still not perfect. It also sends the message that in your home—everyone is committed to growing. Such a powerful and positive message!