Ten Tips for Parents Raising Teenagers
It’s a really good thing that our children are so darn cute when they are little. It is this exact cuteness that conjures up enough love and adoration to last through the teenage years. Because once the kids become teenagers, they aren’t cute anymore. Their giggles and crocodile tears turn into shrikes of ill will (OMG MOM) and rolling eyes that make you question why you had kids in the first place. And since these 'attitude-laden' exchanges between parent and teen happen so often throughout the course of the week, the relationship simply thrives on all that ‘cuteness’ from yesteryear.
Luckily, there are ways to survive raising teenagers. There are ways to get through the days of fighting over clothes, grades, and cell phone bills with your sanity in tact (at least part of it) so you can continue to enjoy your children.
- The first rule of course is to keep their baby pictures around. Throw away all those recent school pictures and find ones of them naked, with you holding them. You might even find some good breastfeeding or pregnancy pictures. Litter your house with these pictures so you can be reminded of those first years when you were smitten. (Plus, it embarrasses them, which is always fun)
- Say no and mean it. Teenagers are amazingly dedicated to task when it involves something they want. If you say no, and then cave in to all the pressure, tears, pouting and even ass-kissing that they send your way to try and convince you otherwise – they will never accept NO for an answer. And you will go insane because they have much more stamina than you do. Just say no – and mean it every time.
- If you fight over appropriate clothes to wear to school more than once a week, tell them that YOU will be picking out their wardrobe for an entire week. No exceptions, they will HAVE to wear what you lay out. (You can bag up all of their other clothes during this time if you have to). Basically, if they have to ask if they can wear something, they know it’s not appropriate. Oh….and WHO GIVES THEM THE MONEY TO BUY THESE INAPPROPRIATE CLOTHES? If that person is you – then you need to go shopping with them.
- Don’t put too many restrictions on television, Ipod, computer use. As long as you monitor their content – allowing them to enjoy their media content is better than a bubble bath and glass of wine for you. (Don’t worry, all the kids are doing it!)
- Eat dinner together every night. Years ago, dinner time was sacred, and this is one of the best traditions to keep in your family. This gives you time to talk with one another (even if it is about report cards) and provides a constant meeting place and time for your family. Plus, your kids will remember family dinners when they are grown – even if it takes an act of congress to get them to the table.
- Make sure your home has an open door policy. As in, their friends are ALWAYS welcome at your house. Don’t complain about the mess, the noise, the sodas they drink, or the chips they eat. If your kids and their friends feel comfortable and welcome in your home you get to know their friends, and to know that they are in a safe environment because YOU are in charge.
- Make them sleep. Teenagers need more sleep than your toddler did. An ‘up all night’ teenager can run circles around a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store – and your teen WILL make your life miserable is he or she is tired (or hungry). Sleep is good when it comes to teenagers, which is exactly why you should refrain from waking them up too early.
- No energy drinks or coffee. What kid really likes coffee? They are only drinking this crap because they think it’s cool. But not only is it unhealthy for them and their growing bodies, it can cause irritability and mood swings – and insomnia in teens.
- Don’t forget what it was like to be a teenager. Being a teen can be hard at times, and just because you made a zillion mistakes doesn’t mean your teen will. Bottom line, you cannot save them from every mistake in their life. It is your job to be there in the end. Every once in a while, give them a break and think back to your teenage years and how you felt.
- This is perhaps the most important tip for parents raising teenagers. Don’t stay mad. It’s easy to be mad at your teen for one thing, and then sort of stay in this ugly rut of being annoyed and irritated by them. Take one thing at a time, and resolve it – then get over it. This way your teenager won’t feel like you hate them and you won’t constantly feel on edge, which only makes teens even harder to deal with.
And remember, when all else fails you can pull out those baby pictures or their old baby blanket from the attic and be reminded why you had children in the first place!
What are your tricks for surviving and thriving the teen years with your child?