Despite what they said (or don't say), your teenager still needs you
Your heart breaks when your child struggles. You feel afraid and powerless. Especially when they become teenagers and you have even less control.
You can't stop parenting simply because they're teenagers. They still need guidance despite thinking they're adults (like we did. How many of us got into trouble because our parents let go of the reigns?
Kids make stupid, even potentially dangerous, decisions in situations due to their youth. But, as parents are we still in the loop?
Parents Are You In the Loop?
I'm not saying become helicopter parents where you never let them out of your sight. Parents need to know what they're up to (at least ask and follow through).
Let's face it, kids lie and not just the trouble makers. Good kids, smart kids, lie because they're kids! They want to test the limits and see what they can do. This is normal! BUT, they think they're invincible. Everyone knows kids that struggle with binge drinking, drugs, cutting and even attempted suicide, hoping it'll never be our kids.
Keeping your connection open and making them feel loved despite their mishaps is critical!
What Is Your Role as Your Kids Ease Towards Adulthood?
So what do you do when you catch your kids in a lie? What do you do when you find out they (or their friends) are making poor decisions? You have an amazing opportunity to not just tell them WHAT to do, but help them figure out HOW to do it.
It is a critical teaching time for them to cope with real life. Isn't that the real goal of adolescence?
Getting Through These Years Without Going Crazy
Here are three simple steps you can take to help your teen learn the skills to navigate adulthood with less and less assistance from you.
Remember, best case scenario- they will be off to college in a few years without you- and this may be the last chance you get to be physically there to help them work through and learn these skills.
# 1: Get support!
Parenting is hard enough without trying to do it in isolation. Talk with other parents. Sometimes, being open about what's really happening gives others permission to do the same. That saying it takes a village to raise kids is so true - and finding that support is invaluable. Join a parents support group or parenting coach that can guide you through it.
#2: Create an open dialogue
Ask your kid those annoying questions.
Where you going?
Who will you be with?
Is a parent going to be home?
Is there going to be alcohol or drugs there?
Are you planning on being safe?
Then here comes the hard part - follow up! I can't tell you how many times parents have trusted their child only to find out later they were getting into trouble. Just make that 10 second phone call or text to check the facts.
Focus on creating an open dialogue where they'll talk to you about what's really happening. If they know they won't automatically be punished, they're more likely to open up. Think about it this way. Isn't it worth it to know what they're up to?
#3: Don't Take it Personally
There is a fine line between parenting your child and realizing your power is limited. Their behavior isn't controllable like when they were little.
Blaming yourself is a common trap but you must be able to separate your child's behavior from who you are. When parents can't separate that they take it out on their kids. Expectations are high and if you're kids behavior is a reflection of your worth, adolescence is gonna be painful for you!
Don't forget about self-care!
Taking care of yourself as a parent is just as important as taking them of your family! The teens years can be rough but you can get through them with support and patience. And watch your expectations! Each teenager while typical is still unique and what we expect for them amy or may not be realistic or match up to their own.
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