As our children grow up everything, starts to change. No sooner do we start feeling confident that we have this 'parenting-lark' sussed - that the goalposts start moving. Here are some pointers: helping you and your teen navigate adolescence.
1. 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.
2. Avoid Feeling Guilty : As these goalposts move - it's hard to keep up. We aren't always going to get it right - but that's OK. Let's ditch the guilt - it serves no-one.
3. Avoid Yearning For That Empty Nest : "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 - and if things really ARE as difficult as you think - then seek professional help... but don't blame your teenager. They are likely to be struggling too.
4. 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.
5. 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, what message is that sending to your child ... that they/we aren't as valuable as others?
"I wish life had a rewind button."
6. Avoid Regretting Past Mistakes : Sure, there are always things we wish we had handled better. Your past decisions ( and mistakes ) have shaped you. Do not beat yourself up.
7. It's OK To Feel Confused and Hormonal Too : Teenagers do not have the monopoly on feeling distracted with life.
8. Embrace the Uncertainty - It's OK Not To Feel In Control : Just because we are the adult - does not mean that we have it all figured out. We are allowed to feel out of our depth.
Oftentimes - we get our biggest breakthroughs when we feel this way.
9. Don't Feel You Have To Justify Yourself : There's no need to feel that you have to measure up. Parenting styles can differ, greatly. Its all about choice. Parenthood is NOT a competition. We are all in it together. Ultimately, all we want is what's best for our kids.
10. Do Not Suffer In Silence : If you are struggling and you are not sure which way to turn - then give yourself some slack and look for support.
"Failure is success - if we learn from it."
11. Avoid The Fear Of Failure : There's no such thing as failure - only feedback. This fear of getting things wrong often stops us from taking risks or accepting challenges. Push through this and move out of your comfort zone.
12. "You Are Their Parent And Not Their Friend" : Whoever said you cannot be both (in my opinion) may be needing that "distance" in order to maintain their own "authority". Experience has told me that parenting a teen is a double-act; like learning ballroom dancing - to begin with a lot of the steps are wrong - but soon enough it starts to take shape. Parenting a teen does not have to be a "them and us" situation.
13. Rules Are There To Be Broken : Whilst rules are important - kids thrive with boundaries; But these regulations don't have to be written in stone. Flexibility helps.
14. Avoid Perfection : Accept and enjoy the chaos and messiness that your family is. That's just as it should be... a bit like your old teddy bear: Comfortable, falling apart at the seams. Reassuring, held together with love.
15. Avoid Comparison : "Comparison is the thief of joy." When we compare, we begin to highlight our perceived inadequacies, diminishing our confidence and self belief. 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."
16. Avoid The 'Obvious' Battlegrounds : A messy bedroom is a source of many arguments. 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. Think of the end game : their character, their health and their happiness.
17. Avoid being a Know-It-All : 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 to have them. If you are willing to grow together then your relationship will become so much stronger because of it. Give it a try.
18. Avoid Lectures : Simple. 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.
19. Avoid Putting Yourself Out To Grass : Follow your own dreams. By pushing yourself too and focusing on your own personal development, you set the example, that life is for living, that it's exciting.
20. 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 to begin with, 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.