The Secret To Raising Teens
As I have (half) jokingly said in the past, I struggled with being a parent when my kids were younger. I put myself under a huge amount of pressure to be the 'perfect' mother, which I am/was/will be far from. Strangely it was when they reached the teen stage that the penny dropped that my role was not to control my kids. And by control I mean, control that they were safe, that they ate well, that they behaved well, that they made good choices and so on.
My teens were/are unique individuals who have their own strengths and their own journeys in life. The realisation was that my role as a parent was to believe that I had a relationship with my teens that was built on honesty, love, respect, and trust.
To build and nurture my relationships required a comprehension and acceptance:
that honesty is a two-way thing
to always act from a place of love
to respect that they should be able to make decisions and suffer the rewards and consequences of those choices (within reason)
that I did not need to 'punish' them for being in a learning stage - hugely important!
trust that I can communicate with them so all the above can happen
To have a such a great relationship with my teens took an active investment from me to be more than just a mother, I had to ensure that I had invested in my belief that my teens were/are good people who had the right to learn and experience life as per their decisions, not my rules. I had to be the adult I wanted them to be.
Now I am almost 'on the other -side', I often hear parents lamenting and even some legitimately heartbroken that their young teen is going through a crappy, surly, obnoxious stage. Please keep in mind that leaving childhood behind is a darn scary thing to live through...I am talking about your teen here, although for us it is as well. Emotions such as anger, 'trialing' what it is like to talk back, argue or be defiant are all perfectly normal things they NEED to learn how to deal with.
In parenting it is easy to fall in and out of 'helicopter parenting', 'lawn-mower parenting', and the 'tough love parenting', and you know what, it is ok to do some of all of these things at some stage. Tough times are tough. And there may be many tough times for some. The one thing I believe all parents need to keep in mind is that teenage years are an advanced learning years. They need all the love, help and support they can get. And most of all they NEED their parents to believe in them. Parenting the teen stage is HARD for so many reasons, but it is also one of the most important. If you think you are at the end of your tether, then hang on tighter to your believe in them if you can.
I joke with my boys a lot. I listen to my boys ALL THE TIME. I admit when I am wrong and I explain that my hesitation to say yes comes from a place of love and protection. I talk to them about things that worry me, and they never cease to prove my worries wrong. I am proud to call myself a friend of theirs, that special type of hybrid friend that is parent as well as friend (yes you can be both!). During the tough times I have always fallen back to asking 'what is really going on here?'. When I listen, like really listen often to the things not being said, the shitty behaviour suddenly makes sense and it all seems to wash away.
I respect and admire my teenagers for the amazing humans they are. I honestly think that a large percentage of drama and pain felt during this stage can be allocated to the way in which we have chosen to deal with a situation. Be gentle with yourself and if things are really tough in other areas of your life, then keep that in mind when addressing the drama your teen might be causing (are they even really causing drama or are you just too tired or too emotional to not take offence at a snarky remark that may have been a failed attempt at humour?).
If you are struggling with your teen, please reach out and see if we can talk about ways in which you can turn things around. I am not one for 'woo-woo' parenting and I do believe there is a need for boundaries and rules. But I also believe that perhaps some parents need a few more tools in their tool box or to look at what is happening from a slightly different view point. Lets Talk about Teens xx