After experiencing a ridiculously tough weekend of choices recently, this one is for all of those parents out there in the trenches of parenting teens…
Here’s what I need you to know: It’s okay to not know what to do.
Everything about this is new and so much about this is scary. The “right” answers feel so much more important now than they did when you were choosing which brand of bottle to use or when to start potty training. But remember how big and important those moments felt at the time? When you were literally standing in Babies R Us arguing with your partner over which car seat to put on your registry because omg he didn’t even read the links you sent him about the reviews and NOW he wants to have an opinion?! One day we’ll look back on these decisions and feel the same, right? Riiiight??
When your teenager is sitting in their own office as a real life grown up checking in on his own kids at home, we will feel like this was just another period of life we lovingly muddled through. Or they’ll be in therapy and we’ll be happy we made them finish school and helped them pay for college because now they have a good job with great benefits and stuff. Go mom!
I wish I could guarantee that everything will be okay, but as I’m living in these moments myself hoping and praying that they really will be I guess I can’t really know.
But, here’s what I do know – this season is unexpected, unpredictable, and unavoidable. We have to go through because there is no way around.
What I Know About Parenting Teens
1. Be honest with your kids about what you’re feeling.
It’s okay for them to know you don’t have all the answers. Life is full of unknowns and learning to face them is part of it.
It’s okay to be vulnerable and show uncertainty in front of your teenagers. You want them to know that being an adult doesn’t entail being right all the time or always having the answers. It’s about doing your best, allowing your experience to be your guide, and consideration of the consequences.
They may not agree with your decisions, but you want them to understand that your parenting has a process and intention built from love and respect.
2. Don’t feel like you have to do it like anyone else does.
There are no “shoulds” in parenting. There’s what’s right for you and your kid and what other people think, say, and do don’t have a lot of space in that equation.
You’re always going to receive unsolicited advice and hear opinions and even judgement from those around you, but you have to move to a space in your own journey where you don’t let those things come before your own knowledge and intuition or allow them to dictate your actions.
3. Say sorry when you make a mistake.
It’s what you’re supposed to do when you make a mistake.
Teach your kids that mistakes are going to happen in an imperfect world and the best thing we can do is to accept that, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.
4. Give yourself and your child grace.
This is your first rodeo when it comes to parenting teens, and it’s also their first becoming one. Try to think back to the dark ages when you were becoming an adult, then multiply the pressures you faced by 100 because that’s what growing up in today’s world with technology and expectations is like.
It’s the same, but also so very different and the struggle your child is facing, like the one you are facing, is too real. Make space for them to be who they need to be with you while it’s happening.
5. And listen.
You can’t hear what they need you to hear if you’re the one always doing all the talking.
Want to know more about parenting teens? Check out this post: The Surprising Truth About Parenting Teens