Parenting teenagers it the true School of The Hard Knocks! Its a season when things shift and it happens at rapid speed. There are hormones, peer pressures, self identity crisis, sexual identity issues, racial identity concerns, more freedom, driving, dating, sex, employment and the list seems to become longer, the deeper you are immersed. Parenting teenagers is really tough and it sucks. These little kids have become bigger kids, peaking at your eyelevel and boy, that does something to your parenting ego in terms of authority (No one wants to admit it too much but it's true). So, how can we get through it? How can we create a game plan to help us through a ten year stretch of time that tests our parenting gangsta? Here is how:
Poor Decisions (after a while) Are Not Your Own - It's important to understand and accept your children’s poor decisions are not your own. If you have given them the tools and advice to make better choices and they do the opposite, after a certain point, you must stop internalizing them as your own. It's a gut punch and your feelings are crushed however, you need to clear your conscious of that before you it rips you apart. You have tried and cried. Besides, if you have additional children to parent, they need your attention. Dwelling in a sunken place doesn't work with parenting.
You Will Make Mistakes Too - Know it and accept it. When you have littles ones you're probably assuming you are enduring the toughest time of your parenting journey. Physically, its exhausting having little ones, mentally, whew girl, teenagers are of another dimension. Mistakes happen, and with teenager it's a true trial and error process. You will make mistakes just keep trying and learn from them...Just try not to repeat the mistakes.
Become Collaborative - Insert your teen into the parenting decision - making process. Ask them their perspective and find out their thoughts on how you are handling the situation. This can be insightful and it can help combat some of those mistakes. It is shocking how your child perceives you sometimes, so ask, don't assume.
Be Realistic - Sometimes we can set up unrealistic expectations for our children. Each child is different and so are the neighbors kids. Treat your teen according to who they are. What works for one child may not work for the next. Try not to fall into the habit of universal goals, especially academically. One child may need extra help and may not be an honor student, whereas, the other child may be the epitome as a scholar. Don’t impose the same goals on them.
Forgive Don’t Forget - When your teenager does something REALLY bad, it's HARD (insert my experience right here!). It's hard to look at them the same and it's hard to accept they have demonstrated behaviors that are not of the moral and ethical code of your household or parenting. Forgive so you can progress forward. Yes, it may take some time.
Institute Consequences - Consequences suck, even for adults but teenagers really need them! They are a couple stepping stones away from adulthood and if they don’t feel the repercussions of bad decisions, adulthood will kick them in the face and we don’t want that. When creating punishments, make sure it's intentional and with purpose. Empty consequences are just that.
Get A Therapist - An unbiased opinion is sometimes what is needed. There can be a season when parents and the child just can’t seem to reside on the same equilibrium. Guess what? There are people that help with that!! This is not only good for children but can feel like a weight has been lifted from you as well (Insert my experience here). Don't be afraid to seek help because in the long run, you will find it was just what was needed.
Listen, there are no perfect parents! We are all doing the best we can, with what we have and what we know. We have all fallen short and if you have not, keep living... and share your secrets in the comments below! Parenting teenagers is a new realm of love, patience, anxiousness and trust. Take it easy on yourself and be patient because we all know, parenting eventually extends Beyond Parks & Playdates.
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