Friday | June 2, 2023

Smart Parenting – Staying Close to Your Teen

Maintain the Parental Role

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“When I’m grown up, and have a son/daughter, I’ll never do that!”[/pullquote]

As much as you want to be close to your teen, you don’t want to cross the line and lose the parental authority boundary by being a “buddy”. Maintain your approachability and respect as they get older. Enforce rules fairly, and encourage your teen to respect the authority of teachers, employers and other adults.

Remember fondly all the times when you said “When I’m grown up, and have a son/daughter, I’ll never do that!”. That said, it’s not necessarily the best idea to parent your teen the way they wanted.

Doing their homework, bailing them out of every jam and being each other’s constant confidante is not a good way to help your teen find their boundaries.

Help your adolescent child learn life’s lessons by allowing them to make small mistakes, work hard and experience the consequences of their actions, within reason. Your faith in their ability to make decisions and act on their own will win you more points than living their life for them.

Express Your Affection and Aspirations, but Don’t Smother

As your teen accomplishes victories or reaches milestones, show your love and appreciation of their hard work. Help them set SMART goals:

● S pecific
● M easurable
● A ttainable
● R ealistic
● T ime Bound

If you set goals for academics, sports, social status or other topics which are beyond your teen’s abilities, they will avoid you when it’s report card time, or as far as confiding their wins or losses
to you. Reward them or support them accordingly, but don’t go over the top.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Teenage boys and girls have different approaches to try your patience.[/pullquote]

When you argue, or your teen steps outside your rules, do your best to forgive, but you don’t need to forget. Allow your child to rant and rave for a while, but when you are ready for the family fireworks to end, step up and stand your ground. Teenage boys and girls have different approaches to try your patience.

Allow your daughter to cry or be sarcastic, or your son to confront you. Remind them that you love them, and only want the best for them, but life doesn’t always go their way. Conduct your life in a way they can mirror in their life, as parents are still the most important role model a teen has in their life.

Doors may slam shut on occasion, but if you don’t knock it down during an argument. Your teen will be ready to open it again eventually to talk things out.

Give Space to Get Closer

Your teen needs space, both physical and mental. Respect the privacy in their room by knocking before entering, or not prying – unless you are concerned for their safety. If they want to watch a movie they like, or TV show, enjoy watching it with them.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”circle of trust”[/pullquote]

Make an effort to share some interests in music or hobbies. Show appreciation for their interests, and you can have a better chance to enter their “circle of trust”.

Have a couple of nights a week where you cook together, or allow them to cook a meal for the family. Trust your teen to take over some responsibilities in the household, and give them some latitude to take on a greater role in the family’s day today life.

Physical affection will change as your teen gets older.  An arm around the shoulder will be more welcomed than a bear hug. Especially if your teen’s friends are around. Make an effort to chill with your son, or compliment your daughter on her choices. Just don’t go overboard.

Being on the bleachers of your son’s Jr. A hockey game, or your daughter’s valedictory speech puts their age, and yours into perspective. The ability to resist jumping over the boards to the ice, or standing beside the podium will help your teen grow closer to you as in our fast paced world, finding the time. Focus and availability to be with your teenaged son or daughter can be very difficult. Two income families, and teens who often work or have full school, sports and social calendars often feel like strangers to each other.

Even when you are in the same room with your teen son or daughter, there are distractions like:
● Job performance stressors, quotas, long hours, and financial pressures
● Homework, phone calls, part-time jobs
● Media distractions like the internet, television and radio
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]You don’t have to be a helicopter parent to stay close to your teen[/pullquote]

You don’t have to be a helicopter parent to stay close to your teen, you just need to find ways to unplug, be present and share some quality time. Remember your teen is in a transitional period of working towards building their own independence, while trying to form their own identity as well.

As much as your son or daughter wants to be unique, many also crave to conform with their
peers as far as:

● Fashion
● Music and entertainment
● Financial status
● Possessions like cars, electronics, etc..

Needless to say, parenting a teen takes a lot of patience and a good sense of humour. You need the ability to find a balance between guiding your teen to adulthood, and giving them the “slack” to make mistakes and find their own way. It’s a lot like when you taught them to swim many years before.

October 25th, 2016

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