As a parent of teens and previous teens, the most useful idea I can pass on is view life through their eyes!
I’ve always looked forward to my kids reaching the teen years because teens are fun, independent, awesome, and have insightful conversations. Perhaps it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, but my teens are thoughtful, respectful, and wise young people. They have their struggles, moods, and they make mistakes, but don’t we all? My son says, “Mom, your rules make sense.” I don’t restrict randomly or play the power game. I guide. I let them be a part of the decisions. I respect their time and opinions. I listen to suggestions. I instill good values and respect for others. I tell them my own faults.
Tips for parents of teenagers
- Let your kids grow up. Celebrate.
- Do your homework. Read up on child development and teen brain development. There are reasons why they do the things they do, or why they can’t do what’s obvious to you. Being scatterbrained or moody at times is normal–their brains are going through many changes, and as with other body structures such as muscles and bones, not everything develops at the same rate.
- Make sure rules, restrictions, and consequences make sense. Involve them. Be consistent. Always follow through.
- Talk to them, but respect their time (or lack thereof). Be available and approachable. Teens need mentorship and guidance from adults, not lecturing and dictatorship.
- Watch a movie, play a sport, or find some other common ground. Take them to a restaurant and feed them.
- Validate their feelings and ideas. Judgement or dismissal is painful, but validation often brings cooperation.
- Understand that life is hard for them. Whether it’s the social scene, exam stress, or their own emotions, what may seem obvious or surmountable to us is a big deal to them. Put it into perspective by thinking about what is difficult or stressful for you.
- When something goes wrong or a teacher calls, stay calm. Understand before you act.
- Listen to what they mean, not how they say it. (You can always model the socially acceptable way later.) Don’t take things personally. You’re the adult.
- Love unconditionally.
Most importantly, start early. Your relationship with your teens will depend on what you do as a parent from the time they are babies and toddlers.