20 Things to Avoid when Parenting Your Teen
by Cai Graham
As our children grow up everything starts to change. No sooner do we start feeling confident that we have this ‘parenting-lark’ sussed – the goalposts start changing.
Here are some pointers that will help, as you and your teen embark on the next stage... Adolescence.
- Avoid All The Negative Hype: What irritates me beyond belief is all the negative press that teenagers seem to get.
“They are rude, selfish, self-absorbed’ individuals.” WRONG! Teenagers are just young people who are trying to find their way in a world where they don’t quite understand the rules ( sound familiar? )
In my experience, teenagers are charming, amusing and thoughtful young people who deserve much more credit than they are receiving at present. We, as their parents need to support them.
- Avoid Feeling Guilty: As I alluded to above – the goalposts keep changing and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. We aren’t always going to get it right – but that’s OK. Let’s ditch the guilt – it serves no-one.
- Avoid Yearning For That Empty Nest : I recently heard a parent say … “This ( parenthood ) is so difficult – the sooner they leave for college and I get my life back the better!” Be very careful for what you wish for! It is our job to create a happy family atmosphere. Enjoy your children rather than endure them, they are likely to be struggling just as much as you.
- Avoid Striving To Being A Super-Parent: Life is not like The Waltons! We do not have to have wholesome meals on the table and clean clothes airing on the line on a daily basis. Life can be topsy-turvy at times and it’s OK to embrace that. A home is all about LOVE and not clean skirting boards and a pot-roast in the oven.
- Avoid Putting Everyone Else First: As parents we are wanting to make sure everyone is happy – that’s natural and commendable. But when you place yourself too far down your own agenda – you are sending 2 messages :
1 ) You/we don’t matter as much as everyone else
2 ) It’s important to put others first all the time.
Not quite what you want your child to learn.
- “I wish life had a rewind button.”Avoid Regretting Past Mistakes: Today - you are right where you need to be. Your past decisions ( and mistakes ) have brought you to this point. Do not beat yourself up. So long as you are still communicating, and respectful of one another – you are heading in the right direction.
- It’s OK To Feel Confused and Hormonal Too: Teenagers do not have the monopoly on feeling confused and distracted with life. Adults are allowed to have bad days too!
- Embrace the Uncertainty – It’s OK Not To Feel In Control: Just because you are the grown up does not mean that you have it all figured out! You are allowed to mess up and feel out of your depth. When we feel this way, these are often the times we get our biggest breakthroughs. We can shock ourselves at our own wonderfulness, when we begin to realise our true potential in tricky situations.
- Don’t Feel You Have To Justify Yourself: There’s no need to feel that you have to measure up. Parenthood is NOT a competition. We are all in it together. In the end – we ALL just want what’s best for our kids.
- Do Not Suffer In Silence: If you are struggling, remember, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to help. You do not have to navigate parenthood all on your own. That said – trust your own instincts. Remember, do whatever works for you and your family. Advice is great – but it is just another person’s opinion.
“Failure is success – if we learn from it.”
- Avoid The Fear Of Failure: There’s No Such Thing As Failure – Only Feedback. This fear of getting things wrong ( and looking bad ) often stops us from taking risks or accepting challenges. Moving out of your comfort zone can be scary - but often rewarding.
- “You Are Their Parent And Not Their Friend : Yes. BUT – that does not mean that you cannot be both. Experience has told me that parenting a teen is a double-act. A bit like learning ballroom dancing – to begin with we get a lot of the steps wrong – but soon enough it starts to take shape. AND, you are most definitely allowed to enjoy each other’s company along the way! Parenting a teen does not have to be a “them and us” situation.
- Rules Are There To Be Broken: Kids thrive when there are boundaries in place; but these do not have to be written in stone. We all need a degree of flexibility. Allow common sense to prevail.
- Avoid Perfection: Accept and enjoy the chaos and messiness that your family is. That’s just as it should be. It’s a bit like your old teddy bear : Comfortable – Falling apart at the seams – Reassuring – Held together with Love.
- Avoid Comparison: What do they say …? “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” When we start to compare ourselves to others – we begin to highlight our internal doubts. How liberating to relinquish the need to strive to meet other people’s expectations.
“The main problem with teenagers
is that they’re just like their parents were at their age.”
- Avoid The ‘Obvious’ Battlegrounds: A child’s messy bedroom is regularly the source of many arguments. Why? Just because your exacting standards are incompatible with your child’s ideas of what is acceptable is not necessarily grounds for daily disagreement. Sometimes these things don’t matter in the long run. Surely what really matters is their character, their health and their happiness?
- Avoid being a Know-It-All: Kids, especially teenagers, can spot BS a mile off. Let’s face it – as parents, we don’t have all the answers, and nor should we claim that we do. If you are willing to grow and learn together then your relationship will become so much stronger because of it. Give it a try.
- Avoid Lectures: Simple as that! If you continue to ‘nag’, your teenager will withdraw and stop listening. They do not like being told what to do. Conversations, at this stage in parenthood, are better when they are two-way.
- Avoid Putting Yourself Out To Grass: Follow your own dreams. By pushing yourself too and focusing on your own personal development, you set an example to your child that life is for living, that it’s exciting. By exposing yourself to new challenges, it reinforces that we ALL need to learn and sometimes, make mistakes along the way.
- Don’t Jump to Conclusions: When you make assumptions about your child’s behaviour and intentions, chances are that they may not be 100% correct. Worse still, it shows them that you don’t trust them completely ( I know, I know – you’re not supposed to ) But do give your teen the benefit of the doubt.
Have faith. Your teen is a work in progress and allow them to develop at their own pace…. Most of us turn out OK in the end.
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Cai Graham is a parent, coach, and author of The Teen Toolbox and founder of ‘Peak Parenting’. Cai specialises in supporting families overcoming obstacles; including communication issues, loss and trauma, so that they can enjoy a brighter future. Her mission is to empower parents and teenagers with the tools and techniques they need to cope with the challenges of modern day life. She has blended over two decades of motherhood with her background as a therapist and coach to create an online education program, a book ‘The Teen Toolbox - Equipping Parents and Teenagers with the Tools for Navigating Adolescence’, and one-of-a kind luxury retreats for families.
Cai's website is www.caigraham.com and this is her Facebook group