Helpful Advice Every Parent of a Teenager Needs
Dear Parent of a Teenager,
I know it can seem like you are at the very end of your rope, but hang on. Life can be complicated, and it is hard for a teenager to figure it all out. But, they are trying. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. They are VERY trying!
Remember, the world isn’t what it was when you were growing up. Sure, you had issues, but not like today. Today's teenagers are living in a new world which is purposely sabotaging them. Click To TweetToday’s teenagers are living in a new world which is purposely sabotaging them. Life is throwing so much junk at them, and they don’t know who or what to believe. What was once the truth is no longer truth. There is a new normal. Remember, teenagers feel awkward enough trying to fit in, let alone deal with the emotional mayhem of transitioning from tween to teen. They don’t always do everything right the first time around. Or the second. Be patient with them. You may have to tell them five times to do something. It is a phase. Do them a favor. Set up boundaries and keep them, for their sake and yours.
I used to think my child needed me most when she was a baby, but I look at that differently now. I think our involvement during the teenage years is critical. Why? Because teenagers are so easily influenced by the media, their peers, music, fashion, and social media. Because they desperately want to belong. They are vulnerable and easy targets for predators. They are almost old enough to stand on their own, but they don’t always understand that everyone can’t be trusted to have their best interest at heart.
Sometimes belonging means they will find themselves falling into the wrong crowd. No parent wants to go through that heartache, but it may happen. They may seem like they don’t want to talk or they don’t want you to care, but it isn’t true. They will press you and test you, but deep down they do appreciate the boundaries you have set for them.
Make time for conversation. Ask them questions about what is going on in their lives. Just remember, you are their parent, not their best friend. Don’t try to be their best friend because you think they will like you better. Your status is higher and much more important than a best friend. You have earned the title of Mom or Dad, so use that status to influence your teenagers for good.
Go with your gut! If you feel like something is going on, follow-up with it. If they have a cell phone or are on social media, check their accounts. Don’t be afraid of checking their computer history. You own the computer. It isn’t spying when you are their parent. It is called good parenting. Take time to get to know their friends. Have them hang out at your house. Is it inconvenient? Yes, sometimes it will be, but at least you know where they are and what they are doing.
Teenagers are full of raging hormones and emotions. Their bodies are changing, and their minds are racing. There are days they will be angry with you for no apparent reason other than the fact you exist. Don’t take it personally. If you thought the word, “No” was a big deal when they were two or three, wait until they are thirteen through seventeen. Hell hath no fury like a teenager scorned. It is okay for you to be “uncool.” I promise you there will be a day when you will be “cool” again.
Don’t assume anything. We know what that does. If your teenager says they are doing something with a friend and their parents, say it is okay, but check with the parents. I’m not saying every teenager is evil, or can’t be trusted. I’m saying do your homework.
Teenagers need to know no matter what, they have a safe place to come back to after they have made a mistake. This doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions for their actions, but every mistake can be a teaching moment for you and them. I’m sure we can all remember a time or two when we were teenagers and did something stupid. Be honest with your teen. Let them know you weren’t perfect either and there were some lessons you had to learn the hard way too.
Choose your battles wisely. If your teenager comes home and asks if they can dye their hair blue, don’t make a big deal of it. If that is the worst thing they ever want to do, that is a win!
Don’t forget to laugh with your teenagers. Laughter is the best medicine. It heals the soul from the inside out. Do it often!
Watching your child navigate the teenage years can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. There is something very fascinating about watching your child turning into an adult right before your eyes. Just when you thought you knew nothing about parenting, you catch that glimpse of hope that maybe you weren’t doing such a bad job after all. It is interesting to listen to their opinions and see the world through their eyes. Often it will give you a perspective you have never thought of before.
Tell them you love them a lot. Oh, they may cringe and complain, but they won’t forget. It will be tucked away in their heart, and they will remember when they need it the most.
The next thing you know, they’ll be going off to college, and you’ll wonder where the time went. It was so fast, and now you long for a slammed door, chips mashed into the carpet, and an empty gallon of milk in the fridge, at least until that first weekend trip home from college with ten loads of laundry.
In the meantime, here is a resource which I found helpful as I nagivated through the teen years with my own child. I pray it will bring you as much peace as this did to me.