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.
Continue reading "Seven Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teen(s) Starting Today" »
Many years ago I was doing home-based therapy with families in need. One day I arrived at a client’s home while she was watching a woman’s eight-month old daughter. When I arrived, I heard my client playing with the baby and saying in a sing-song voice, “Aaah, aren’t you such an ugly baby? Yes you are. Yes, you’re such an ugly little baby, aren’t you?” When I asked my client why she was talking to the baby like that she laughed and said it didn’t matter since the baby didn’t understand what she was saying anyway.
In my work with couples over the years I hear similar excuses from parents about how they talk about their children of all ages, how they fight in front of their children and how they speak to their children. Parents say, “Oh, they don’t pay attention. If we fight, they don’t hear us. If we make a comment about them, they don’t listen anyway.” Parents often are convinced that their children don’t listen to what they say and don’t tune in to what they do on any significant level.
Continue reading "Be mindful: Your Children Are Watching, Listening...and Learning" »
This summer has reminded me once again of how important the little things are. Regarding vacations, it’s the little things, in fact, that make the biggest difference. Below are 10 tips to help make your family vacation a successful one for all involved.
1. Tune into your family. Be present, not distracted. Sit back and enjoy your family without the stresses of work or other distractions. Enjoy their hugs, jokes, off-the-wall comments, etc....and allow them to enjoy you.
2. Tune out of work. Do not sprinkle work throughout your entire vacation. If you must work, do so for a predetermined pocket of time and then tune out of work and into your family. Do not be constantly answering calls, responding to messages, etc. That gets really old really fast…and annoying. It also sends a message to your children that they come second—even on vacation.
3. Listen. Children often speak the truth. Be courageous enough to hear their message without dismissing it or defending yourself. If they’re hungry, feed them. If they’re tired, let them rest. Don’t be so determined to follow a schedule that you take the fun out of having fun.
4. Laugh. Have fun and be playful. There’s nothing like a good hearty bout of laughter to bring a family closer together. Moments of laughter are often some of the fondest memories for children and grown-ups alike—lighten up and laugh.
Continue reading "10 Tips for Creating a Successful Family Vacation" »
With the most recent royal wedding, I seem to have new marriages on my mind. I’ve been thinking, in particular, about the new family dynamics that occur whenever a new marriage takes place. We’ve all heard horrifying in-law stories throughout the years and some of us may have experienced some of these hardships up close. Too many people have no idea how to maneuver these in-law waters with any skill.
Below is a little cheat sheet for the parents of the brides and grooms of the world on how to start their relationships with their daughters/sons-in-law off on the right foot.
1. Be the first to reach out a welcoming hand. Remember that your son/daughter-in-law is entering your family—not the other way around. They will be anxious, hopeful and on guard about you so help put them at ease. They will feel like the outsider and will be waiting for your lead. Lead…and do so in a positive way.
2. Go out of your way to make your child’s spouse comfortable with your family. Keep an eye out for them at family gatherings and make sure you’re inclusive. Introduce them to other family members, talk with them when you notice they’re off by themselves and treat them as you would want their parents to treat your daughter/son.
Continue reading "A Letter to Mothers and Fathers-In-Law" »
By Kim C. Flodin
This blog post was written for the Soho Parenting Blog http:www.sohoparenting.com/blog
Kim Flodin has been part of the Soho Parenting community 20 years, is a writer and mother of two daughters. Her work has been featured in Newsweek and New York Times, among other publications, and you can read more from her on her blog – http://blogsgotnotitle.blogspot.com/.
After a lifetime of even-temperedness, becoming a parent struck a chord that released both a passionate, besides-myself love, as well as an intense anger when things got tough. My rage kicked off in my first-born’s toddler years; it intensified during my daughters’ teen years, especially my second child’s adolescence, which has been stormy. If she yelled, I yelled louder. If she got snarky, I replied in kind. If she threw something, I threw two things. It wasn’t pretty.
With my elder girl wrapping up her teen years and my “baby” half-way through them, I can report that things have been better, a lot better. For months now. And not by magic. To help turn the tide, I had to learn that:
* I needed help. Last year, my husband and I enrolled in a six-week, one-on-one immersion in counseling specifically to learn new skills and new ways of doing things, all the while going to half a year of monthly parenting coaching sessions. I kept (and keep) up my individual therapy. I mean, really, I can be taught.
Continue reading "Letting Go Of The Rage--Parenting With Calm" »
This blog post is from the Soho Parenting Blog: Parentalk http://www.sohoparenting.com/blog/
“I’m too tired”, “We’re just too tired”, “Do we have to schedule it on our Blackberry’s”, “Who has time for sex, I need to pump”, are just some of the comments we hear from new mothers. The transition from being a couple without children to parents typically takes a pretty big toll on your sex life. Spontaneity, extra energy, tight tummies and libido may seem gone and never to return. Many couples really struggle to bring back an intimate, physically connected, satisfying sexual relationship after kids.
Sex is often hard to talk about even in the most communicative relationships. Often the subject is joked about, or argued about but not really discussed. So here are some suggestions given by women over the last two decades that have made the transition to being sexual and parents at the same time.
• Don’t worry–this is all normal. Every couple goes through tremendous changes in their sex life after having children.
• Don’t make assumptions about what your spouse is thinking. No one is a mind reader.
• Talking is the best aphrodisiac. Getting close emotionally about the changes makes couples more apt to reconnect sexually.
• It is normal to feel satisfied from the physicality with the baby and to feel less of a need or desire for sex.
• Some lubrication is necessary be it wine or KY or both.
• Do schedule it! It can become an exciting and fun private joke to know that Saturday nap time, or Thursday nights are your time.
• Fake it ’til you make it. Many feel a resistance to begin having sex but once they push themselves past that point they are so happy that they did.
• Just one night alone without the baby can have a lasting effect–so line up those grandparents or good friends and go to a hotel or just be alone in your own place.
• Women are hard on themselves about weight gain. Don’t assume your husband feels negatively toward your body.
The added responsibilities, the physical changes, the stress that parenting brings, naturally shifts your sexual desire and changes to your pre-baby sexual frequency. Try not to focus on how it was- but more on how to make the present fulfilling for you and your partner.
One man has been having an affair for several months. When his wife questioned him, he admitted to the affair and told her there was nothing she could do about it. He subsequently went away every weekend with his mistress with no shame or remorse. Upon his return home after each weekend, he would frequently speak to his lover on the phone in front of his children. Obviously his children soon began to question him. When asked what he thought the impact of his behavior was on his children, he said he was certain “they would get over it and be fine.”
Another couple has been swinging for the past two years and is upset that their children found out. The children are repulsed and not speaking to either of their parents. While still a third couple has been swapping partners with their close friends on Saturday nights. Shockingly (sarcasm here) the husband found out his wife and best friend have been having an affair outside of the Saturday “swaps”.
I could go on with endless stories, but you get the picture. Couples are becoming more and more promiscuous with little remorse. In fact, many swingers, cheaters and porn addicts are justifying their positions. Some people say humans aren’t meant to be monogamous, several say they’re unhappy in their marriages and they deserve to be happy, others say they have a high need for sex and on and on.
Continue reading "Sexual Promiscuity and Its Ramifications in Relationships" »
It’s important for every parent to realize that, first and foremost, children live what they know…and they know what they live. This principle means that the best way to raise a healthy daughter is to be healthy yourself. She is watching the adults in her life. She is paying attention to how her parents speak, treat and relate to one another. What she sees in her parents’ marriage is what she’s likely to repeat in her own.
What our actions are teaching our daughters:
1. Poor self-esteem: If we struggle to hold ourselves in warm regard, we teach our daughters to do the same. A daughter will watch our insecurity and model it herself. She is likely to struggle with feeling worthy and will make a lot of decisions based on what will get her liked rather than what’s the right thing to do. The best gift we can do is strengthen our own sense of self worth so she can grow hers.
2. Harsh, abusive or disrespectful talk in the home: If parents speak disrespectfully, abusively or harshly to one another, they teach their daughter that this is the norm in romantic relationships. If the family is harsh in general, she is learning that harshness is a part of all relationships. She is likely to grow up to become harsh herself or be in relationships with someone who will treat her harshly. The harshness will feel familiar—just like a pair of comfy, ripped up jeans.
3. Negative self-talk: When we walk around the house calling ourselves fat, dumb, absent-minded, etc., we teach our daughters to do the same. She will learn to focus on her flaws rather than her strengths. A steady focus on flaws keeps you down and hurts your ability to hold yourself in warm regard.
Continue reading "Raising Strong, Healthy Daughters " »
Because so many relationship habits are formed well before adulthood and because so many of my readers are parents themselves, I believe this is a great post for parents to read. The author is Annie Fox and her site www.anniefox.com is a great resource for parents of tweens and teens. Enjoy.
For Parents: A Relationship Bill of Rights
March 6, 2009
You have the right to have fun
As the parent of a young teen you may believe that your son or daughter is years away from a “relationship.” You might also believe that acai juice has the power to reverse global warming and fix the economy. Face it, most middle schoolers are totally focused on the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Zone. What do you think all that IMing and texting is about?! I’m not suggesting that they’re ready to create and maintain healthy romantic relationships. Geez no! Many of them are still sorely challenged in the friendship department. Most tweens and teens are naturally curious about sex and relationships (two very different endeavors which our culture has regrettably collapsed into one). And they’re under tremendous social pressure to couple up. There’s pressure from peers, from the media and well, yes, even from some parents who not so secretly get off on the reflected glory of their 7th grader’s popularity with the opposite sex. So they’re going to experiment with relationships – that’s a good thing and it’s how they learn. But there’s no reason they need to stumble through the Bf/Gf Zone totally clueless. We should provide them with some ground rules (and I’m not necessarily talking about purity pledges).
Continue reading "WHAT PARENTS NEED TO TEACH THEIR TEENS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS (a guest post)" »
Below are the remaining five tips for being a good parent as a follow up from my last post.
1. A BACKBONE AND GOOD BOUNDARIES: Doing the right thing as a parent is incredibly hard. Seldom are our children going to run up to us and give us a hug after we take their phone or computer away. Often our rules are met with back talk and a thousand variations of “I hate you!” We need good boundaries (read my post on boundaries for a refresher). We need to know that they’re struggling to handle their anger and don’t always mean what they say. Now, of course, if our child is seventeen and still saying that…we may need to be a bit more worried.
2. WARMTH AND ABILITY TO SHOW LOVE WITH ACTIONS AND WORDS NOT JUST BY PROVIDING FOR: I’ve worked with many adults who were impacted by the lack of affection of their parents. They had mothers who were great at dinners, housework and limits, but had no idea how to be affectionate or warm. This isn’t okay. As parents, we need to do our own work and make sure we can be good parents to our children. Children want to be -- and feel -- loved. It’s our job to make sure we show them they are. Give hugs, say you love them, pat them on the back, be playful, ruffle their hair, etc. WARM UP. If this is hard for you then get help—your children need it.
Continue reading "SUCCESSFUL PARENTING 101: THE MUST HAVE INGREDIENTS (PART II)" »