So many days have passed when I wondered if I would make it. My heart was splattered on the floor looking like it had been chewed up and spat out by a wild animal and the whole of my chest ached like it would never be repaired. This was the learning journey of parenting teens. If somebody told me it would feel like this I would have laughed.
I mean just how tough can parenting teens be?
Don’t get me wrong I love all our kids but the teenage years can test the patience of even the most saintly person. I do believe that I may have become desensitized to almost any possible prank they could throw at me over the course of raising teens, much to their annoyance.
Let me tell you what I have learnt about teens.
They have an arsenal of verbal and physical responses to ‘No’.
Wearing you down with please, telling you they hate you and not talking to you are just some of the popular weapons they will use. The cycle begins here and letting your no mean no will set the bar for future requests.
Expect the unexpected
A lot can change in a week, month and a year. These are the years that your child is growing from a child to an adult. Emotions and hormones are all over the place. If they aren’t sure what they want yet then how can you be sure. Give them space to grow.
They are on a journey towards being adults
The balance between boundaries and freedom to make choices is an important one. So Jonny’s mum supplies him alcohol for the party because she believes it’s safer that way and you say no. Owning your parenting choices can be tough when you are seen as the fun police by your teen.
They still need you
Going to sports games and having you there to see them get that special award is important even if they fob you off with “I don’t mind if you come”. Taking interest in their achievements and struggles are what will keep them talking to you.
Responsibility and expectations are good
They may whine and play the I’m not happy card when you ask them to do a regular job but you are settling them up for failure by not giving them responsibilities and having some expectations. In an adult world we are expected to contribute in some way to our jobs , daily housework and cooking. Teaching our older kids how to cook at least 5 basic meals has meant that they are not surviving on two-minute noodles or takeaway.
Keep out of their relationships
Seeing your teen be heartbroken is shattering but expressing your disapproval of their partner or the situation will more than likely come back to haunt you . Listening , comforting and having comfort food or a great movie to watch together is a better choice.
Give yourself a timeout
This has saved me from self combustion.
There is no way that you are going to be able to send a teen to their room or somewhere else and sometimes space is needed . Make sure you have somewhere to go when words are starting to get heated. Music , a book , magazine and chocolate are great distractions (for yourself)
Teen years and stages can vary and be different for each child and survival rate for parents is good.