Tips to Parenting Your Teens and LIKING it
Parenting teens can be enjoyable. There are certainly unique challenges to it, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience for either your teen or you.
Society tells us that it is normal for parents and teens to not get along. I have always challenged that and determined to prove that wrong. Parents and teens CAN get along and like one another.
It’s been a lot of work, but we’ve succeeded in having an enjoyable time parenting teens.
My husband and I have raised our share of teens, and are working our way through our last 2. Each of them have been different, and we’ve made our mistakes along the way. Those mistakes have translated into our learning and improving our parenting.
Here are some things that we have learned and that can help you win at parenting teens too. These tips are not in order of priority as it was difficult to decide which of these was most important.
As you are parenting teens, you’ll have more to add to this list. Here’s ours:
Be a Patient Listener:
I’m sure you’re aware how much pressure your teens can feel at times. Their friendships can add to that pressure.
One of my teens once told me about a friend who had shared about an abuse experience. This friend’s parents were already involved and aware, but my teen felt the need to share it with me confidentially. It was something that needed a bit of processing, and having a listening ear helped.
If I had not already fostered a relationship with my teens that encourages them to come to me to share a burden, then I would not have had the privilege of being a listener in this conversation.
Our reactions to what we hear need to be thought out, not simply reactions. Our reactions can turn our kids off to coming to us any longer. Be careful with your response so as not to discourage them from choosing you as someone to go to.
Listen with thoughtfulness to what they are saying and give advice when asked for without judgement.
Learn to Ask the Right Questions:
This goes along with listening to them. As they share, we need to ask questions that can help them think critically about a situation. These questions draw out more than a yes or a no response.
Questions like: What did you learn from that situation? What would you do in that situation? What would you do differently if you had the choice? How did that make you feel?
One goal when we are parenting teens is to encourage them to think about themselves, how their choices affect them and others, and how their choices affect their future.
Learning to ask questions puts the ball in their courts and forces them to think a situation through.
Give Them Time to Process and Think About Their Answer. Don’t Be Satisfied With, “I don’t know”:
Two of my children are very similar to me in that they need time to process a question if it has to do with feelings. We feel the emotion, but it takes a little bit of time to be able to identify that feeling to adequately communicate it.
Another of my children needs time to process any question requiring evaluation of a situation and then a response. They also need time to process a question where the responsibility of a large decision rests on them.
Sometimes the first answer that I get when I ask one of my teens a question is, “I don’t know.” This used to frustrate me and my reaction would shut down the conversation or turn it into an argument.
It seemed to me that they were trying to get out of thinking it through or answering the question. I thought they saw it as their final answer, and that it relieved them from trying to arrive at a different answer.
I’ve learned to give them time to process the questions I ask. If they give me an “I don’t know” answer, I now tell them to think about it and that I will check back with them for an answer. I don’t let them off the hook, but after recognizing they needed time, I learned to be patient enough to give it.
Have Clear Expectations and Boundaries for Your Teens:
Be clear with them and make sure they understand their limits on the activities they are allowed to participate in, the friends they can hang out with, and what you expect from them on their technology usage. (cell phone apps they are allowed to have, cell phone usage, with whom they communicate.)
Also be clear on the consequences for crossing the boundaries.
As they get older, these boundaries are ones that you will want to set together, but young teens still need clear boundaries with expectations and consequences for crossing lines. Here is a great resource:
Invest in Them and in Their Interests.
I’m suggesting not only a financial investment, but your time, attention, and effort. Support them by going to their dance recitals, going to their sporting games, their orchestra concerts…..whatever it is that they have an interest in.
But more than simply going to these things, but become involved. Be a part of what they are involved in.
Then encourage and genuinely praise their efforts after a performance. Even if they didn’t do their personal best, there is always something praiseworthy. Find it and focus on that and positive things. Leave the criticism to their coach or instructor.
Enter Their World:
This tip is slightly different than the previous one, so I thought I’d give it some individual attention. What I mean by enter their world, is—do the things they like to do; even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.
Some of our kids like Harry Potter. I’m not a huge fan, but I sit and watch the movies with them and ask questions, (and jokingly make fun of it). We’ve made butter beer, and their dream is to go to Harry Potter land at Disney world.
It’s the same with video games. I don’t care to play them personally, but I do every once in a while with my kids. It means a lot to them.
These things speak to them. It tells them that they are important to me, and what they like is important too. Read a post I wrote about entering into your kids’ world.
Express Your Pride to Them:
Just today I looked at my daughter and told her what a great friend she is to her friends. She smiled and hugged me. It meant a lot to her. She responded that her friends have told her that too.
Try to look at your teen and genuinely express to them pride in something they excel in, or a great effort they put out on something.
Find a way to also just express pride in them just for the fact that they are who they are; not based on anything they have done or accomplished.
It’s good for them to know that your pride in them is solely based on who they are and not what they do.
Become a Coach to Them:
When our teens reach a certain level of maturity, we begin to shift more responsibility for their decision making and choices to them. We are always available for them to bounce things off of, we ask probing questions to help them think about all aspects, and then we leave certain decisions up to them.
After they’ve told us about their decision, we help them achieve that, or maintain the decision they made.
For example: If one of our children told us that they wanted to stay on honor roll all through high school, we would then keep them accountable for the decision they made and challenge them to think through their schedule or priorities.
Or, if one of our children wanted to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, we would ask them to tell us what the boundaries of their physical relationship would be. By this time in their lives, we’d already taught them about our family values regarding this subject, and our reasons for arriving at these values.
Our children, up to this point, have seen the benefit of our family values and have made decisions for themselves regarding this area of their dating relationships. Their standards vary some from ours, but they have taken ownership of their own standards, and we view our role as coaches to keep them accountable in sticking to their own standards.
This not only applies to dating relationships, but to movies they watch, activities they participate in, and in their finances.
What better place to be given freedom to make an increasing number of choices for themselves, but still have the safety net of being in the home and having loving coaches who can talk them through mistakes they’ve made and steer them towards better decisions in the future.
Be a Person Whose Example They Can Follow:
My husband was telling me a story tonight about a 10 year old boy who was in the bleachers during a high school home run derby. A foul ball came his way and he ran and got the ball.
Soon after, a security guard went up to him and explained that since it was a high school tournament, they were limited in the number of balls they had and the security guard asked the boy for the ball back.
The boy responded by disrespecting the security guard and the guard looked to the boy’s father who was sitting nearby. The father refused to get involved, the boy continued to disrespect the security guard, so the security guard finally left.
As he was walking off, the father high-fived his son.
This father acted every bit as disrespectful as his son, and in fact, was the boy’s teacher.
Be what you want your kids to be.
Have a Common Goal:
Right now my two youngest are becoming interested in working. I want to encourage this attitude, yet, I’d like them to be able to focus on school.
They are doing a couple of things that bring in some spending money and they are better learning how to handle their finances, but I’d like them to be able to make enough to put away for college.
Together we talked and decided on something that works for both of us.
Now as I am getting more involved in blogging, they are learning about being virtual assistants.
I also bought a web design course, KidCoders, to teach them how to design websites. I really enjoy how easy it is to understand. Plus it’s fun to see the results. Here’s the curriculum right here KidCoder: Beginning Web Design .
I want to teach them so they can have a way to work anywhere they are and still dedicate themselves to schooling.
I’ve also been teaching them about affiliate links like, Bluehost and how they have not only very discounted by quality web hosting, but they have a great affiliate program.
I’m teaching them about other affiliate programs too; Amazon, Cj Affiliates, Clickbank and more.
It’s something that I can do to help them, and it’s a common goal and project that keeps us connected.
There is so much more to be said on this subject, but these are some tips from things that we have learned and have found helpful in parenting teens.
How has this challenged you? What is an area in the relationship between you and your teen that you can work at improving?
Click below and check out a couple more helpful resources.