HELLO MY ParenTeen Squad! ParenTeen means parents of teenagers! Although I’m sure any parent can relate to these tools. I hope last week helped you as much as it helped me. If you have a teenager you know that you are successful if you manage to stay out of prison week after week. Seriously you know it takes a village. The parenting villages look different than they did back in the day. Back in the day everybody in the neighborhood looked out for everybody. Now your village may be your teens small group at church, their fellow sports teammate parents, close friends, and/or family. We need each other, you can’t do it alone. Some parents stay isolated because they feel like they are the only ones going through certain struggles. They may also feel like certain behaviors are directly related to their parenting. I am here to tell you that our children have their own personalities. So don’t feel like their behaviors are directly related to your parenting. They are undergoing many changes as they develop into adults. Their personality changes and mood swings are completely normal. Yep that roller coaster of emotions is normal.
Normal? Can’t be serious? Are you sure? No, can’t be? The answer is YES, NORMAL!
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Let’s just jump right in from last weekโ€ฆ.

Four L’s for the ParenTeen Journey:

Listen to your Partner– Whether you are in a relationship with the mom or dad of your child. Listen to their opinion if they are active in the teens life. The two of you must come up with a game plan. If they are absent then find you another accountable trusted parent to confide in and ask ideas. It’s hard for both parents to always agree. It is confusing for your teens when mom and dad both have different expectations. Your child can draw closer to one parent versus the other once they notice the difference in parenting styles. Two different perspectives from two different backgrounds makes it hard to see each other’s perspectives sometimes. Just because you were parented a certain way doesn’t always mean that will work for your child. Moms and Dads we have to be a united front or a team in front of our kids even if we disagree on the issue. If we aren’t seen as a united front they will break us individually. If mom says no then they will go ask dad. Dad says yes and then mom and dad are arguing. See how that works! Listen to your partners advice. Do what is best for the teen. My husband and I don’t see eye to eye all the time with parenting. He usually likes to beat a dead horse by talking about the issue over and over. I am the more reasonable one that talks through most things to get a solution. Neither way is wrong, it goes back to knowing your child. When I disagree with him I TRY to remain quiet and not criticize his way. I’m sure sometimes my way drives him crazy too. We have learned to do our best to stay a UNITED front around the kids. It takes A LOT of self-control and compromise. You can do it! Work Together.
Listen to your Teen– Let them express themselves. Don’t multi-task during the conversation. Invest your time and attention to what they are saying. Turn off the parent alarm and listen without judgement. Be a sounding board. This just might not be the time for your lecture. Listen for cues of deeper issues. Teens don’t really know how to fully express what they are feeling so listen for the cues. This provides you with insight to their emotional state. In The Out of Control book referenced below, the author says that it is important to connect not correct our teens all the time. What better way to connect than to listen. In the book she uses an example that reminded me of me. LOL!!! The example was when your teens come home how we bombard them with tons of questions. We think we have to always start the conversation to allow time to listen. Then we take it personal because they don’t want to talk right now or they ask why all these questions? Don’t take it personal.  Allow them to set the tone. We don’t want to be bombarded when we get home so give them the same respect. Make sure you make yourself accessible for your teen to talk to you. This helps develop their emotional awareness and builds a sense of self. When they feel like they are a priority their self-esteem grows. This is also another way to strengthen your bond with them.
Let Consequences Prevail- Say WHAT? Are you crazy? That makes me look bad as a parent. NOPE!!  Allowing them to fail at certain things allows them to learn how to solve problems. As parents we want to rescue our children so they won’t experience certain things. It is ok for them to experience anxiety our job is to monitor the anxiety and help them navigate. It is a natural part of life. It’s called growing up and teaches them self-awareness. In the book Out of Control written by Shefali Tsabary, PhD says that our own anxiety is the driving force and urge to discipline instead of allowing natural consequences. YES!! My favorite two words as a parent NATURAL CONSEQUENCES. Let me give you an example. One of my boys decided that he needed more social time during passing periods. He was tardy to almost every class, every day because he needed to walk his girlfriend to class first. It was time for homecoming dance and guess who couldn’t attend?? HIM!! Why? Because of his tardies. I was LIVID because we had purchased everything for him to attend. Guess who was more upset? He was. Then it hit me !!!BAM!!!  that was a natural consequence for him. Did his tardiness improve? ABSOLUTELY!! The calls from the principal, me and his dad fussing about making it to class on time wasn’t enough. He would improve for a small period of time but the behavior changed based on the result of a NATURAL CONSEQUENCE. Knowing when to let natural consequences take place is a learning curve. If the behavior is dangerous or leads to destruction then you may need to seek a professional or do something more drastic. Natural consequences are exactly that natural which means they happen automatically or as a result. You don’t give out natural consequences you just allow them to happen.
Lose your Fear-  Being a fearful parent is expected. Fear causes us to panic. Realizing they are growing up and you have to let go of certain aspects in their life little by little is VERY unnerving. The American Association of Marriage and Family therapy says that children have their own fears. These fears can be compounded by parents when we add ours to theirs. They learn what to be afraid of based on their families. It isn’t easy to take risks and it’s definitely not easy to take those risks when it comes to your child. As parents we have to balance risk, worries, and being over protective. We should be our teens guide not their guard. We live close to a Target and my kids ask to walk there and I would say no because there is no immediate sidewalks by us and you can be hit by a car and killed. Dramatic, I know I know! I had to loosen my grip a little and instead figure out with them the best path that they can take to get there. Ugghhh!!! I also talk about scenarios if this happens what would you do? How would you handle this situation if this happens? This develops their sense of self and allows them to prepare for potential dangers. Do I still have fears yes? I have learned to confront my fears with reasonable actions. As in the last example we talk through scenarios. I also tell myself I can only control what I can control. I also cover them in prayer and trust that GOD will take care of them. My human side still gets the best of me sometimes. Don’t expect the worse. Stay prayerful. This is an exciting transitional period where you get to see your little boy or little girl blossom into a young man or young woman.
There are no perfect parents. To be human means we are not perfect. If I know nothing else I know that parenting at any age level is not easy. As I said before, parenting doesn’t come with a manual. Between being a mother and a wife my prayer life and relationship with GOD has been strengthened. The daily challenges will hit you fast and hard. One thing I tell myself over and over again is that you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you respond. Parents last week’s articles discussed the Five K’s. Know Thyself, Know your Teen, Know their Friends, Know how to Respond, and Know the Expectations. Need a parenting check up? Focus on The Family provides one for you. Click here.
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