In my continuing Motherhood series, we’ve come to the teen years. Ah yes. Inevitable.
Are you afraid? Excited? Yes. That is the appropriate response.
Our world is increasingly complex, and my reflections on teens mirror the time in which I raised my own. But some things are timeless, and I hope to focus on those. Here are three things that your teen needs:
1) Your unequivocal support. This is not the time to pull out all the stops and criticize heavily. When is it really? Your child needs to know that at the end of every day you are on their side. Period. Be open to their ideas, even if they are not like your ideas. You can learn a lot from your children. Take rides in the car so they can talk to you side by side, (it’s less intimidating) and truly listen without offering advice unless they ask. Not easy.
3) Your eyes to see the long game. Who they are now is not who they will be. They are trying out many things, some of which terrify and disturb you. If you can remember this you won’t often overreact. They may, you must not. Even the friends they choose will be different later. During this time speak often to them about their strengths. They need to know that they have strengths and that you see them. Dig deep if you must–everyone has strengths. Social media can do much to call their worth into question. You are the voice to remind them of the truth.
4) You to set boundaries for behavior that come with consequences but aren’t personal. I found this the hardest balance to achieve. If you can remember that what your teen does reflects on them not on you, it will help. It isn’t about you. At the same time you are responsible for setting guidelines that are firm. Let as natural a consequence happen as possible. For example : not doing your homework comes with poor grades. Period. Don’t work harder than they do on the work that is theirs and let the chips fall. Not easy, but vital. Try not to start sentences with, “I thought I told you to… or “Can’t you ever remember to…” as they are proof that you are taking too much responsibility for them. Instead you might simply say, “That’s too bad,” when the consequence hits them.
I was far from a perfect mom of teens. I did however really enjoy the ride. You can too. Decide now that you will and at the very least your teen will remember that you enjoyed them! That’s a huge gift.