Parenting is challenging. The majority of teens want freedom, but they’re not quite sure how to navigate all the ups and downs. The smallest bumps can seem devastating, yet their childlike innocence can bring forth positivity that is often unnoticed by adults.
With unruly hormones and a variety of opinions, building a healthy relationship with your teenager can feel overwhelming at times. However, with patience and hard work, it is not impossible. Here are ten general tips you and your teen can thrive together.
Freedom to fail and excel.
Sometimes people must do something themselves, so they can truly understand how to do it right and identify what works for them. A teen’s desire to be independent doesn’t mean they’re stubborn; they are just living. As parents, we must take a step back and acknowledge when we should allow our teen to fail because they must learn from their mistakes in order to excel. Teens will never gain life experience if they are constantly micromanaged. Even though parents don’t want to see their child experience heartache, the reality is children will never know how to persevere if they aren’t challenged and fall down every once in a while.
The teenage years are for finetuning manners and etiquette. During the early childhood years, parents teach their children how to be respectful and courteous to others. It is important for parents to demonstrate that same respect to their teens. Avoid overly critical remarks, even when discussions become heated. It is important to focus on your teen’s feelings and emotions.
Inquire how certain situations made your teen feel and try to be relatable. Even though your teen is not your friend, as a parent, you should handle their feelings with care and caution. Your teenager has a lot of growing up to do, but you must be willing to teach them how to be a respectful individual.
Have an understanding on privacy.
As a parent, you are tasked with keeping your child safe and educating your child on various fronts. Have an honest conversation with your teen and let them know what you will be checking – this way, they aren’t sidetracked or feel betrayed.
It is important to check your teen’s message exchanges, grades/assignments, and internet browsing history. Help your teen understand that you will respect their privacy, but you need to check-in and make sure that they are safe.
Checking on them is part of parenting and isn’t intended to be perceived as an invasion of privacy. If your child is more knowledgeable about the concept of privacy and your intentions, then your relationship will be stronger, and they’ll be more understanding.
Communicate with your teen.
Having regular conversations with your teenager, when things aren’t heavy, is a great way to build strong communication lines. Your teen is way more likely to discuss things with you when things are rough if you’ve established strong lines of communication.
Be intentional by scheduling time with your teen. Quality time doesn’t necessarily need to be costly or long duration's, but it should be frequent. Some ideas for quality time are grabbing lunch or dinner together, going for a walk, participating in an activity together that your teen enjoys, watching a movie, shopping, or reading a book together. Creating memories is a great way for your child to build strong values that they’ll use in the future.
Be intentionally supportive.
Remind your teen how special they are. It is relatively easy to get lost in the day-to-day. Take the time to say positive affirmations to your teen and remind them how awesome they are. If they did a great job cleaning the house or on an assignment at school, tell them. It is important for your teen’s mental health to know that you see their awesomeness. Being appreciative of positive behavior will help your teen not feel emotionally wrecked when you point out areas needing improvement.
Get familiar with their friends.
Encourage your teen to invite their friends over to hang out and offer to carpool when they attend various events. Developing a relationship and general understanding of your teen’s friends will help facilitate conversations with your teen and can help you feel more secure with your teen’s relationships. If your child and their friends feel comfortable in your environment, they are more likely to be their true selves – which will help you parent your own child.
If your teen has siblings, it is important that you eliminate comparison as much as possible. Everyone is their own person and will possess unique traits. If siblings become combative, try your best to be the mediator and reassure your teen that their voice is important.
Create clear discipline actions.
Consequences for various actions should be clearly drawn – loss of cell phone, losing car time, early curfew, or no screen time. Be clear and honest with your teen when consequences are needed. It is important to talk with your teen about what is deemed as right and wrong. Just like the governing laws citizens must follow, your teen needs to understand what actions will occur. Having a clear understanding will help your teen make better decisions when they are faced with various challenges.
Don’t be their friend.
You’re the parent, and even though you want to have a strong relationship, it is important to be the parent in every situation. Your child doesn’t need another peer. If you do not teach and guide them, they will not be able to move forward and grow toward maturity. Your teen will be temporarily unhappy, but that is just part of parenting and growing up. Peer-inting is not an effective way to be a parent.
Mistakes are unavoidable. Feelings will be hurt. As a parent, it is important to be the bigger person and practice forgiveness. Don’t hold grudges and grant your teen grace as much as possible. By granting forgiveness to your child, they will learn how to navigate your relationship and others in their life.
Parenting a teenager is an adventure; however, if you invest the time and effort, you will end up raising a respectful, kind, and mature human being