Raising teenagers is the last stage of childhood parenting. By the time your child reaches his/her teenage years your parenting job is reaching an end. Your teen will soon be considered by society and you as an adult with the resources to answer for him/herself.
Why doesn’t my teen understand responsibility?
Why is he/she late when they know the home curfew?
Why don’t they talk to me?
I wonder if they are drinking or using drugs?
You’re right they should know right from wrong. They should have some common sense. Unfortunately human development leads the teenager into a black hole of trial and risky behavior. They live life like they are indestructible. They have no fears and think everything happens to everyone else not them. They think they are an island, alone. They don’t want to listen to authority, especially you the parent, making raising a teenager extremely trying. They learn by doing not listening. Put simply they take risks without fully knowing how to weigh the consequences and ask questions later. Therefore letting natural consequences teach them right from wrong is what they will attend to.
You as the parent can raise your teenager by continuing to apply the skills talked about in parenting a tween along with the added technique of problem solving.
Raising teenagers takes on an added skill of listening and letting go. Let your teen have more input regarding decisions made about their activities and behavior. Discuss what obligations they need to fulfill before going out with their friends or doing other recreational activities. Discuss when and how those obligations are going to be fulfilled. Discuss what they think would be an appropriate consequence when they exhibit irresponsible behavior or neglect the important responsibilities discussed. Raise your teen by helping them learn how to develop options by supporting their independence. Know that just because you are talking with them about responsibilities and consequences does not mean that they get to decide the final outcome or that they will carry through with what you discussed. Bottom line is that you are the parent raising the teenager with the final decision resting on the factors of safety first.
Developing the ability to keep an open mind and helping your teen develop problem solving skills can be trying and scary at times but remember that raising teenagers is the last child parenting stage and they will be leaving your nest soon. Problem solving with your teen lets them try out as many choices as possible while they are still in your care. Problem solve with them to help them make good choices, let them fail, this gives you the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and problem solve with them again. Talk about what happened and what other ideas they have to reach the solution. Give options or opinions but do not solve the problem. Let them proceed with trail and error. This gives you the opportunity to provide support along with continuing to provide valuable information to their learning process. This allows you to tweak their thoughts and behaviors before they leave the nest completely.
Soon raising your teenager will be over and your relationship with your teen will change dramatically. You will no longer have the ability to create and protect his/her world. Little by little he/she is becoming an adult with concrete ideas of his/her own. Your relationship with your teenager is becoming a relationship between two adults. Your role is slowly changing from the parent who sets the rule and boundaries to one who problem solves with your teenager, letting them decide. Slowly you have to step back and let them make the final decision and accept the outcome. Your parenting role will forever stay one of rejoicing and supporting. While your raising your teenager your parenting role of making decisions, and setting boundaries with consequences for your teenager is what changes. This will become the role of society as they become a productive member of the adult community.
Parenting a teen becomes as much about you as it does the teen you are raising. Self-discovery and re-evaluation of your own life will begin to come into play. Your own inner child will be activated. Don’t let fear rule while you are raising teenagers. You must have confidence and courage to let your child become an adult. You must be confident that you did your best job parenting your child. You have to have the courage to let your teen try and fail.
Don’t get caught in the negative cycle of rescuing your teen from negative behavior.
Don’t allow your teen to make you feel guilty for the choices they make.
Your job is to allow your teen to take responsibility for their actions. Yes, even if the consequences are harsh. Your job is to be there to understand their suffering but not to rescue them from it.
If you would like to schedule a counseling appointment for you or your teen please call me at 708-730-2600 to schedule an appointment
The most important thing that you can teach your teen is how to get along without you.
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