Children are an amazing gift. Most parents will tell you the first time they genuinely knew the meaning of unconditional love was when they saw their child for the first time. The infant and toddler years will keep you on your toes.
As they get older, homework, social awkwardness, and the onset of puberty will re-educate you on what it is like to be a kid in the present world. However hard the previous years seemed, you haven’t seen anything yet. The teen years are likely best described as trial by fire.
These are the years your sweet and innocent babies begin their struggle for adult independence. The events that unfold are stressful for you and them. The difference? You’ve already been there and hopefully conquered that. Below are a few ideas that can assist you in helping them conquer it, too.
As your tween enters the world of the teen, they develop this kind of radar for what’s real and not real. There are a few things that are common to all teen/parent relationships. First, you are no longer cool. Second, your level of intelligence dropped sharply when they turned 13 (according to them anyway.) Last, you will never understand (again, according to them.)
You will eventually learn, these aren’t as important as you think. Yes, it feels bad to have the little one who has depended on you all his/her life to suddenly decide you are not the end all be all of existence. Think about it, though. That’s hopefully what you raised them to do. So, when you see the stresses of life start to get to them, play it cool, but real.
Be there for them. Don’t just listen to them but hear them and try not to overreact. This is a sure way to make them run elsewhere for help. Don’t lie to them. If you don’t know the answer to a problem, say “I don’t know,” and then work WITH them to figure it out. Be will to hold them and let them cry. Let them vent. Give them a safe place to be heard.
Leave The Helicopters to the Military
Are you a helicopter parent? Be honest. Do you check your teenager’s phone every time you turn around? Are your rules for dating more conducive to the maturity of a 10-year-old? Do you enter your kid’s room without knocking? Are you involved in EVERY school event your child attends?
You may be doing more harm than good. We may not view what stresses a teenager out as being a big deal, but to them, these things, people, and events make up their life. Keeping up with homework while trying to juggle friends, significant others, sports, clubs, a job, church, and alone time can be enough to fill up anyone’s stress meter.
The last thing a teenager needs is their parents smothering them. Hear us out. A child needs the direction and guidance of both parents and occasionally that even entails discipline. Be that as it may, your teenager’s last few years at home with you will be filled with learning how to make it in the adult world and these lessons will come mostly by trial and error.
Hovering over your child in these years will not only add to the monumental stress they already have but may keep them from making mistakes that could have much larger consequences if they were made later, without you there to guide them.
Be The Example
Even as teenagers, children watch you and learn from your example. Sometimes, they won’t ask you how to deal with a problem. They will simply take a page from your playbook and repeat your actions. Are you setting the kind of example you wouldn’t mind them mimicking? Unfortunately, not many us were raised by mom and dad of the year types. We all have different ways of coping with stress.
Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and participating in the use of illegal substances are popular methods, but are not ones most of us would consider acceptable for our children. Fighting, vandalizing property, and yelling obscenities are also things many find therapeutic, but your children would no doubt be disciplined for these actions. Why not give them a safer example to follow that has the same effect and most of the time better? Start an exercise routine.
It’s not only a great coping mechanism but healthy for you and them. Consider spending time praying with your teen. Studies show those with a solid connection to faith in God actually live longer and have lower levels of stress-related disease. Don’t be afraid to share when you are struggling. Your children don’t have to know the details, but it helps for them to know you are not perfect.
Your teenager’s life is at least as stressful as yours. Use these suggestions to help them learn how to navigate through this seemingly impossible time of life.