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â€œThere is an urgency to make something of oneself, to plunge into the social world, to fire up new varieties of relationships, to leap into love and heroic adventures, to take on risky and unfamiliar responsibilities, to choose a direction in life, to seek a mate or lover, to develop a style, a flair, a name, a gig, a special talent, a distinctive personality.â€
Hereâ€™s where you get fired as the boss. If you've done a good enough job you get rehired as a trusted friend and advisor. If you continue to do a good job, your teen may well even take your advice.
It's appropriate for your teen to want to make her own decisions now, and to think for herself. And yet teens are still developing, and have widely varying levels of maturity. It can be a scary time for parents, especially those who don't yet trust their teen's judgment.
The most effective parenting strategy with teens is to focus on the relationship. Punishments just drive your teen away and make it less likely that you'll have the information about what's going on in his life that you need to be a good parent. The only leverage you really have with your teen is love.
It's appropriate for teens to be oriented more to their peers than their parents now, but kids who are well-grounded in their families will respond well to parents' efforts to stay connected. And parents who have bonded adequately with their children at each earlier stage will feel invested enough in their teens to stay connected, even if a lot of effort is required.
Parenting teens is often portrayed as an ordeal of sorts. Here are 5 tips for better parenting that dismiss misconceptions about raising teenagers, and can pave the way for a more beautiful parent-child relationship.
If you look at it from the teenagerâ€™s perspective, every day, life is changing within you because you are growing rapidly, and the people around you are not able to grasp that. Usually, they become a little more endearing than parents because they look at things from a little distance. As a teenager, you are slowly getting hijacked by your hormones. Old age means you are being released from that, so they kind of understand. Those of you who are middle-aged have no clue. Even historically, the Middle Agers represent a confused state of mind!
There are many aspects to the teenage years. One thing is, your intelligence is being hijacked by your hormones. Suddenly, the whole world looks different. What were just people are suddenly becoming males and females? Suddenly, you are only interested in one half of humanity. It is a huge change. You must understand it is new to them and they are trying to come to terms with it.
If you were a and they had problems, they would talk to you. Because most parents are lousy friends, they make other friends, and those friends give their own whacky advice since they are also in the same state. It would be best that if your children have a problem, they come to you. But they will not come to you if you think you are the boss. They will not come to you if you think you have ownership over their life. They will not come to you if you are â€œthat horrible father or mother.â€
They will come to you if you are a good friend because when they have problems, it is natural for them to seek a friend. So make sure from an early age that you are their best friend until they reach the age of 18 or 20. You have to earn it. It will not happen because you delivered them. Because you delivered them, you get the title of mother and father â€“ you will not get the title of a friend. This has to be earned by you behaving responsibly every day.
Do not deal with your teenagers. Make yourself available for them. Make them responsible for everything. One month, have the courage to hand over your monthly income to them and give them the responsibility to manage the house. You will see, things will change dramatically. If you really want to do something with your children, you must allow them to expand, because that is all they are trying to do. It is not just their body that is growing â€“ the potential of the human being is also growing. You must allow them to expand, rather than seeing how to restrict them.
If you try to restrict them, you will have huge problems. If you have boys, you will have one kind of problem. If you have girls, you will have another kind of problem. Do not think restriction is a good way of controlling life. Responsibility will put them on track. As I said, hand over your money to them and tell them to handle it this month â€“ you are on vacation. If you are afraid that they will go and blow it up â€“ if they do, what happens to you will happen to them too. Let them go through it for a month. Of course, you can keep some reserve, but let them understand if they blow up the money, there will be no breakfast tomorrow morning. It is better to learn in a protected, caring atmosphere than out on the street.
Teens are usually the first adopters of new technology and new social media platforms. While you may not hear your kids talking on the phone late at night, it doesnâ€™t mean they arenâ€™t chatting. From texting to Twitter to Snapchat and Skype, teenagers are just as (if not more) communicative as we were growing up with only our house phones. They are just more stealthy in their conversations. This is why we have to make an effort to learn what they are using and join their networks. A friend and follow their friends. Read their Instagram comments. Check-in on their tweets. Who are they following? What are they sharing? What apps are they downloading on their phones? Make sure you know their passwords and occasionally ask to see their texts. As my son has gotten older, I have felt less of a need to monitor his private text messages. But he knows I have the right to ask. Perhaps even more important: I have always shown an interest in what he is using, so now he shares the latest fun apps without me even asking. He is the one who introduced me to SoundCloud and Instacollage. He taught me how to create Vines and explained the purpose of creating a story in Snapchat. Staying on top of technology is a way for me to keep up with him, but it is also a way for us to connect over common interests.
A teenager who is engaged in an extracurricular pursuit, whether it be with athletics, music, art, acting, student government, youth group, volunteering or even working part-time will be less likely to get into trouble. This doesnâ€™t mean you have to overbook them or force them to participate in something they hate (or outgrow). This also doesnâ€™t mean your teen canâ€™t or wonâ€™t make mistakes just because they play the violin or participate in soccer. But a teenager with accountability to not only you but to teachers/coaches/teammates/employers is less likely to drift. For my son, sports is his anchor. His motivation to work out, excel in school, and focus on specific colleges has always in some way been driven by his passion for sports. I am grateful for this, even if it does place pressure on all of us to keep up with demanding schedules. My wish for all of my children is to find that one thing that drives them. Helping my kids find their passion is just as important as anything else I can do for them. It will set them up for success and teach them that there is more to life than academics, report cards, and standardized testing.
Giving your teenager space and freedom doesnâ€™t mean you lose track of who they are spending time with. Open your home and invite their friends in as much as possible. Ask questions and try to remember names. Pay attention if someone isnâ€™t coming around anymore. The social dynamics of teens change so much that their group of friends will fluctuate many times. This is normal. But you can ask why. Was there a falling out? Is someone getting into trouble? Is your child the reason for the changed relationship? My son isnâ€™t always great at giving details or voluntarily sharing, so I am always asking him specific questions (usually in the car). Sometimes I am surprised by what he is willing to tell me. Sometimes he opens up when I least expect it and I get a glimpse into his world. With each year, I have to adjust to his shift in priorities. I have to accept, understand, and remember what it was like for me as a teenager. But I also have to make sure he knows my expectations. I donâ€™t want him to get so lost in that world that he forgets the importance of spending time with family or putting his own interests and needs above those of his friends.
Your children are growing up and becoming teenagers â€“ that should be a joyful event. But you are distressed about them growing up. Unfortunately, we have eulogized infancy and childhood, which are helpless stages of life. When children are small, they are helpless and look to you for everything. You think your children are magical because they are helpless. Suppose the baby popped out of you, stood up, and said, â€œHey, who the hell are you?â€ you would not like this baby. But they take 14 or 15 years to ask that question. In fact, that is all a teenager is asking, â€œOkay, who the hell are you?â€
Drop this idea that your child belongs to you. If you think these children belong to you, coming into their teens, they will tell you in their own way, â€œGoddammit, I donâ€™t belong to you.â€ That is all they are trying to tell you â€“ which you are not able to digest. Another life does not belong to you. If another life has chosen to be with you, please cherish that. It is a tremendous thing. Whether it is your husband, your wife, or your children â€“ value the fact that another life has chosen to come through you or be with you. You do not own them in any sense. If you do not get it now, you will get it when you die or they die. You do not own them, but definitely, you should include them.
If we really want to bring up our children well, first of all, we must see if we can do something with ourselves. Everyone who wishes to be a parent must do one simple experiment. Let them sit down and see what is it that is not okay with their lives, and what would be good for their lives â€“ not about the world outside because that needs cooperation from others, but about themselves. Let them see if they can manifest that in the next three months.
My son is the oldest of four children, with the next oldest being seven years his junior. This means our family outings are often geared toward the younger ones. As you can imagine, he doesnâ€™t always want to go with us. So I have learned when to force family time and when itâ€™s okay for him to do something else. I want him to prioritize his family, but I also donâ€™t think itâ€™s fair to drag him to every animated movie. So sometimes I let him retreat to his room and sometimes I make him play along because even though he is a growing teenager, he is still part of the family. Also, secretly I know that despite his protests, he still enjoys himself. When we went to Disney World over winter break, I knew it wasnâ€™t how he wanted to spend his time off of school, but even he wasnâ€™t immune to the magic of Disney. Family time is important for children of all ages, even if you have to occasionally force it on them
As our teens grow and change, we have to grow and change with them. We have to allow our children to take on more responsibility and make decisions for them. We have to allow them to earn our trust as well as their increasing freedom. We have to be open to saying yes, which means learning to let go and taking a step back. I struggle with this every day. My son will soon get his driverâ€™s license and one of the hardest things I have ever done was to sit in the passenger seat while he learned to drive. I had to have faith in his ability to learn. I had to trust that he would be okay. I had to let go and allow him to be in control. I still donâ€™t know what I will do the day he drives off in the car without a parent. But I know this is part of the process of what it means to raise a child into a teen and then eventually into an adult.
We have to allow our children to fall once in a while because that is what growing up is about. They learn just as much from their mistakes as they do from their successes. They are not always going to get everything right, but then again neither are we. With the right amount of support, guidance, and forgiveness, our teens can transform into amazingly independent and productive adults, while we stand ready to help, just in case.
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