As a parent of teenagers we know all too well their snarkiness, their mood swings, and their know-it-all attitudes. Dealing with these juvenile terrors can drive any parent up the wall but keeping these five points in mind will help ease the frustrations and keep you from losing your temper over them.
Stick to the Rules
Make a list of house rules and stick to them. Rules on curfew, homework, chores and the like are important for kids any age as it sets boundaries which they need for healthy growth. You will need firm consequences for breaking these rules as well.
So when your teen balks at school work and says it’s stupid and they don’t need to know this stuff for the real world, don’t argue with them, or try to persuade them to like it or see your side of it, instead just say “that’s fine, but you know our rules and consequence of not doing it” and follow through.
Stay Out of the Small Stuff
As parents we want to protect our kids from trouble, disappointments, failure and pain. Unless it’s life threatening, you should stay out of this and let them figure it out on their own. Whether it’s an argument with a best friend, a haircut choice, or disappointment in not getting something they really wanted, let them cope, learn, and make decisions on their own.
Do let them know you’ll be there to answer questions and offer advice if they need it.
This might make you laugh, “I have to be respectful to them?” To a point, yes, they learn from your actions. Instead of nagging and screaming about why they haven’t started their homework yet, how lazy they are and how they’re making you feel, just go in and firmly remind them “Hey, it’s homework time, get started or you lose your gaming privileges”.
Be respectful of their privacy. Don’t snoop on their texts, online interactions or journals behind their backs. You can get programs that set boundaries on their texts and online access to protect them from predators and unwanted website viewing for their safety. Ask them about what they’re chatting about, their favorite websites and games, and their online friends. Be interested in their online presence and such, but stop the spying.
Talk with Them
Even though it may feel like you’re at odds with your teen, talking with them will help find some connections. Just chat about everyday stuff while out on a drive, after they’ve come home from a night out with friends, or around the dinner table.
Don’t ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, instead ask what they liked about the movie they just saw, how are their friends doing, or what level they’re on in their new game.
This will be the time to chat about life lessons too, but don’t turn it into a lecture, share how you feel about important issues, what life will deal them and consequences of possible choices they’ll make.
It’s Not About You
Too many times parents try to control their teenagers because it reflects on them. Whether it’s their teen’s choice of dress, their teen’s actions, or living vicariously through them.
Instead of banning your kid from dyeing their hair or a wardrobe choice because of how you feel, tell them how it may reflect on the child themselves. Explain that people perceive others by their outward appearances and may have negative thoughts about them instead of seeing their true nature.
Instead of pushing your teenager towards your own interests so you’d look good, or because you did or didn’t do that as a teenager yourself, find their talents and help them develop and flourish in it. So you were a star quarterback, or you never made it as a dancer, doesn’t mean your teen has to do it for you.
Despite the stereotypical negative perceptions about teens, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic, with goals and dreams of their own. Even though it’s a time of conflict and battles, it’s an important time to help your kids become well-adjusted and mature adults.
I know all this because I have two teenagers. They are excelling in school, are excited about their extracurricular activities, have goals for their lives and are mature, respectful and fun to be with. My husband and I are not their "friend", we don't nag them, we praise them and we support and participate in their activities.
Please if at any time these suggestions don't work or that you're finding yourself disagreeing with your partner or spouse over your teenagers, please seek out solutions for the two of you.
"One finds limits by pushing them" ~ Herbert Simon