Keeping the Peace at a Not So Peaceful Time
One of the most challenging times as a parent is when your kids become teenagers. To keep the peace and maintain an environment conducive to keeping your sanity while your kids are teenagers, apply some or all of these parenting tips:
* Don't be afraid to give your kids a little breathing room. When my daughter first started closing the door to her room, I have to admit that my feelings were hurt a little. But this was basically her way to request a little privacy. So when she goes into her room and closes the door I know that she would prefer to be alone. That doesn't mean that I leave her alone for long periods of time because I will check in on her periodically but I will also close the door so she can have that privacy that she craves.
* Don't sweat the small stuff. Decide what things are more important and focus your energy there. For example, my daughter choosing to spend time in her room with her door closed bothered me but at least I knew where she was! Your teenager will assert her independence in ways that might drive you crazy. Bite your tongue before saying anything and think of the big picture. Usually that helps me to take whatever my teenager dishes out.
* Even though teenagers sometimes treat their parents like they have a contagious disease, most of the time your teenagers will be happy to host their friends at your house. Invite your teenager's friends over for dinner or for other kinds of activities. Yes it's quite possible that you will be eaten out of house and home, but you'll also know first hand who your child is spending time with and what they spend time on when they're together. And even though you may feel like you're hanging around on the periphery of whatever they're doing, you are making sure you're part of your teenagers life.
* Don't make rules as you go. Make sure that your teenager knows what the punishment is ahead of time for breaking the rules. If your teenager is going to get punished for staying out too late, make sure she knows what that punishment is and make sure that you apply it. Consistency is the key with creating punishments, notifying your teenager about them, and applying them.
* Make a plan for your teens to check in with you. You want to be the one they call if they're in trouble. Let them know that you will always be there for them; that you will pick them up if you're stranded. It helps to go over this kind of plan before your child is caught in this kind of position so that he or she knows how to react and so do you.
* Make sure that you have important conversations with your teenager about risky behavior and dangerous habits. Even though it may be embarrassing for you to discuss something like sexually transmitted diseases, for example, with your teenager it's better that you have that conversation with your child before someone else does. And it's better to have that kind of conversation with your teenager before he or she witnesses firsthand risky behavior or dangerous habits.
* Be sure to live by the same rules and morals you expect from your teenagers. Those teens are pretty sharp. They notice everything. And so if you set up some rules for your teenager to live by but you act as if those same rules don't apply to you, don't be surprised when that teenager challenges you.
When you follow these tips, living with teenagers is sure to be more enjoyable or, at the very least, tolerable. You will experience less resistance to your rules and expectations and get less attitude in return for your efforts. This means a saner life for you while your children transition to responsible adulthood.