Monday, May 3, 2010

Raising a Teen? YIKES!

So, in the whole episode of my daughter flying the coop (see previous blog) I have had several people ask me how I did.  How I raised what seems to be (at this point anyway) a pretty grounded kid with a fairly good head on her shoulders.  How did I form such a good relationship with her and my son? How did I do it---having 2 children by the age of 19? Well, first off, let me say I am no perfect mother! None of us are, and if you think you are, you better think again.  As we all know, children don’t come with an instruction manual.  Nope, you get thrown in there and here ya go! There are a few simple things that I have always tried to remember while parenting. I will share a few of those here.  Please note: I am no parenting expert and my children are NOT perfect.  They make plenty of mistakes, but overall they are pretty good kids…

First, I have always kept the lines of communication open with my kids.  I have never balked (well not openly) at anything they have told me.  I always try to remember what it was like when I was there age, how I felt about things, and what influenced me.  Here’s the thing: we grow up and obviously, what is important to us now is not what was important to us when we were 14, 15 or 16. So, we have to rewind and remind ourselves of how we felt at those ages.  Don’t ever minimize what they are feeling; what they are feeling about a certain situation is very real to them (no matter how absurd it may sound to us)! Listen, hold them and try to remember so that you can empathize with their feelings.

Next, you don’t always have to give advice.  I know, I know! It is built into us! I know!!!!! Learn to hold your tongue.  When my daughter got her first real heartbreak, I just went to her room and held her while she cried; I said nothing.  I wanted to scream “see I told you—he was a moron!” I didn’t.  Why? Because she was already hurting, she just needed to be loved. Sometimes they don’t  need to hear what you think, they just need to feel your arms around them and feel your support.

Finally, you are the parent.  It is great to hang out with your kids (I love it!), but you are the adult! Believe me, when they get to be 16, 17, and 18 years old they will push you to your limits.  They will try to take control of your home.  Do NOT ever let them control your home.  Is it their home too? Of course, but you are the adult and you make the rules. Period.  May they speak to you and ask for certain things to be reconsidered? Of course….but it doesn’t mean it will happen.  I know parents who are afraid that their children will sneak around, so they let them do whatever they want.  NO! Then that child has control of the home….not good! When the child comes to the point of running your home, you are in for big problems.  I am not saying be a drill sergeant, but kids actually want boundaries, they just don’t know they do.

Above all, let them know you are there.  When they need you, you are there.  When they are ready to talk, you are there.  NOTHING is more important than your children. …invest the time, because before you know it, they will fly the coop…..treasure them, enjoy them, love them.

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