Raising teenagers can be the biggest challenge of your parenting career as this is the time of their development when most unpredictable things can – and do – happen.
Your child isn’t a little kid anymore, and that’s not always an easy concept to adjust to. They’re a teen, or a tween so close to being a teen – and it’s, therefore, time to adjust your parenting style to keep up with them and the changes that are going on.
There are lots of differences you’ve undoubtedly noticed by now – they’re taller and more physically mature, they’re craving more personal space and they’ve probably become moodier and more difficult to connect with.
Now is the time, all that development needs to be considered and consequently there may need to be an adjustment – amongst their groans and eye rolls – to how you negotiate things such as curfews, driving, dating, schooling, and their social activities.
Look… there’s, no doubt about it: Your teen, or tween, will test your limits, and your patience. BUT, though they won’t admit it, they still need you and your guidance more than ever!
Now let’s cut to the chase and identify 3 keys to raising a great teenager.
Parent Actively and Appropriately
Don’t be that “crazy” mum who overreacts and automatically assumes the worst in every situation. Always take into consideration that your son or daughter is in a growing phase and needs more freedom to seek information and experience life for themselves. Choking them with curfews and rants will only serve to frustrate you both.
Of course, their safety is the number one priority so don’t be afraid to ask where your kids are going, who will they be with and what they will be doing. Then allow an age-appropriate amount of trust which is respected while they are honest and doing the right thing.
And trust me, it’s ok and very normal to still feel a little scared about this whole letting-go bit. I know I did and of course I still worry about my lads even though they are now young adults. It’s normal for us, parents to feel some resistance at this stage and it doesn’t make you selfish but there does come a point where you’ll need to give your teen some healthy space.
Negotiating some respect and boundaries between you and your teen is important at this time of their development and will benefit you both.
If you’re lost for words and unsure of how to implement this, something along these lines would work fine….
“I respect your boundaries and I understand that you need some space to live and enjoy your life. BUT I also expect you to respect my need to know you are safe and well. To allay my worries while you’re away for a few days could you send me some pictures/call me each evening/reply to any text I send (as examples)? It will help me worry less and you know I’ll be missing you, right?”
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you effectively communicate without having to rant, shout, or threaten. Teens are sensitive to these of kinds of things especially when they are trying to assert their independence and to stand their ground they’ll often start to raise their voice, roll their eyes, or walk away from the conversation.
Establish a Strong Connection Between You and Your Teen
Teens crave the idea of having a parent who truly understands them, appreciates them, and loves them no matter how they are – and the best way to do this is to treat your teen like the young adult they are becoming. Think of you and your teen as a team working towards their best future and not as a boss and micromanaged worker.
It is a simple give and take relationship and once it’s been developed it usually works well, give or take the expected ups and downs of family life. If you have successfully established a balanced relationship with your teen and you consistently offer them respect, consideration, and authenticity, that’s what you’ll most likely receive in return.
Let Them Be Free….. But Within Age-Appropriate Limits
Firstly it’s important to acknowledge that “Too much love can suffocate.” I know that might sound a little confusing, but loving your teen unconditionally involves loving them while letting them go. Just a bit at a time, and always with age-appropriate boundaries and guidance.
Love them through their explorations – that will bring successes, failures, triumphs and tears – but remain their safe and stable place to return to.
We’ve all been in the space where want to have a little freedom to do some new things that we’ve tried…. And that’s where your teen is right now.
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