The Wonder Years: How to Parent Teens

teen-on-smartphoneWe called this article, “The Wonder Years,” because many parents have absolutely no clue how to adjust when their little bundle of love and affection becomes an aloof and mysterious teen. You might say that these parents live in a constant state of wonder, although, not necessarily the good kind.

Surely, you’ve heard the negative stereotypes about young adults. They are often called entitled, selfish, shallow, obsessed with technology, and downright nasty. But, we believe that it is possible to have a positive relationship with your teen children. Here are five tips to help make that goal a reality.

Change Your Perspective
The first step is to bust all of the myths that you’ve been fed about teenagers. Contrary to popular belief, teens are not evil trouble makers dying to make your life more difficult. Parenting expert, Alyson Schafer believes that if we can see the positive aspects of young adults, then we can learn to respect them, and, in turn, receive their respect. Alyson points out that the teen years are filled with immense socializing, a propensity for justice, and many brave new behaviors, all of which deserve our respect and admiration.

Realize That Not All Teens Are The Same
While it’s tempting to clump all young adults into one hormone-infused category, it’s important to keep a global perspective. While teens in the United States are probably enrolled in school, Stewart Ross, author of teen fantasy, “The Revenge of The Zeds,” points out that the same teen in Saudi Arabia would likely be married with three children. Thus, how we perceive and treat young adults is largely influenced by societal standards. This isn’t to say that we should be sending our children down the aisle prematurely, but it does give us a sense of how culture dictates behavior.

Stay Involved
If your teen is growing in a healthy way, she will probably spend a fair amount of time begging you to leave her alone. Don’t do it! Stay involved in her life. Go to her basketball games, and be familiar with her friends. Ask her about her homework, and her plans for college. Sure, she will roll her eyes every time you do this, but underneath it all, she will know that you still care. Just try not to bring your own anxiety into these questions. Ask more from a place of curiosity than judgment.

Set Boundaries
Even though you want to give your child space and respect, you still need to play the role of adult, not friend. Setting healthy boundaries is one way to make sure that you continue to fulfill your parental responsibilities. Saying “no” doesn’t always make you the most popular parent, but, if done with care and concern, it does make you an effective one.

Practice Compassionate Parenting
Regardless of your parenting technique, the most important aspect of caring for a child of any age, is to practice compassion. This means that you have compassion for yourself, and for your child. Often times, parents are hard on themselves because they don’t know all of the answers, or, because seeing their children grow to a certain age, brings up childhood issues of their own. Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson, authors of “Respectful Parents Respectful Kids,” offer a weekly tip series on how to parent from a place of compassion.

If you would like more information on how to effectively manage your child’s teenage years, contact us. We are here to help.

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