Seven Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teen(s) Starting Today
First off, let me begin by telling all you parents out there who are raising teens at this very moment, my heart goes out to you. Raising teens is not for the faint of heart, I must say. My heart also goes out to all those parents whose children have not yet hit the teen years…you have no idea the ride you are in for .
Before I paint a one-sided scary picture of parenting teens, though, let me say that although teens can be moody, snappy and difficult at times, they can also be fun, thought-provoking and really cool to hang out with. Below are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way with my own kids…and I soooo wish someone had told me these pointers years ago. Here’s my gift to all the current and future parents of teens… a mini-cheat sheet to parenting teens. Enjoy and may it help make these years a little less stressful and a lot more fun…for both you and your teens.
The Seven Guidelines
- Lighten up: Stop taking everything so seriously. They’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes. Don’t micromanage them though, in an effort to make sure they don't mess up. They will mess up, we all did. When they do mess up, stay grounded and calm in the storm, not aggressive and reactive. Know that they're young and one way they learn is through their mistakes. So stop the freak outs!
- Stop the lectures: It‘s very easy to want so badly to teach teens to be kind, responsible and successful that you find a lesson in every TV show, statement, interaction or life event. Stop it. Stop the lecturing, stop the preaching and stop the teaching. No really, just stop. I’ve learned (ok—I’m learning) this the hard way. The more you lecture, the quicker they tune you out. Be choosy about your lectures, keep them short and sweet and when tempted to preach…just BREATHE .
- Join them: When they’re hiding out in their rooms, don’t forget about them or assume they want nothing to do with you. Stay connected. Go in and hang out with them, watch a show with them or watch them play their games (or join them in the games). They may act tough, but inside they often feel insecure, lost and lonely and could use a strong support to count on. Be one for them just by showing up.
Parenting teens sometimes feels like a constant balancing act: be interested, yet not nosey; be concerned, yet not overly dramatic; be loving, yet not smothering and on and on. In the end, the best you can do is show your teens you love them, are there for them and want nothing but the best for them. Bring your best self to the equation—even in the most difficult of times—and you model for them how to bring their best self to the table (that might be ten years from now, of course, but you get what I mean ). The teen years are a potentially tough time for all involved, so have compassion for you and for them. Know that these years can be a wild ride, so buckle up and enjoy the adventure! :-) Woo hoo! Here we go!!!
Challenge: Be the teen parent you wish you’d had when you were a teen. Guide them, give them lots of love and be nurturing. Don’t take their actions personally—they’re seldom about you. Have compassion for their journey, hold them accountable when necessary and be supportive always. Good luck!