The Job of Parenting Teens

“It was nice to think about the ‘underneath’ of what is happening with parents and kids”, was my teenage nephew’s response when asked about his thinking on the job of a parent.   He and his sister, also a teen, offered thoughtful suggestions about what it is that parents do.  Aside from the typical advice such as “chew with your mouth closed” their observations included:

Offering protection and support by:

  • Listening first instead of making assumptions about a person or situation;
  • Noticing when kids start to get involved in things that aren’t good for them, such as drugs and alcohol and taking action;
  • Valuing each child for who he or she is;
  • Noticing the positives and negatives of each child; (rather than comparing and focusing on one particular child);
  • Taking the time to listen when kids have a “bad” day;
  • Encouraging kids to do things;
  • Expressing enthusiasm about what kids do and their accomplishments;
  • Staying connected with kids and being aware of where kids are and what they are doing; (not micromanaging things that kids know how to do)

Teaching Important Skills, Values, and Life Lessons by:

  • Demonstrating how to be a good person:
    • Putting yourself in other people’s shoes;
    • Following through when you say that you’ll do something;
    • Being respectful to all people;
    • Teaching the difference between right and wrong;
  • Pointing out how to do things better the next time, when mistakes are made;
  • Teaching how to cook, clean, do chores and take care of themselves;
  • Using discipline when children need to learn important life lessons;

Teens experience expectations from many different sources; school, family, peers, jobs, and extracurricular activities to name a few.  In addition, there are the changes in their bodies, hormones, brain development, and feelings.  They need strong parents who will offer guidance, balance, and healthy rules to help them manage.   If you aren’t sure how to do this, or don’t believe you have laid groundwork earlier in your parenting; you can still make changes to move forward in a new direction.  To get started, pick out something that you will change that has a good chance of being successful, or choose that which is of the greatest concern to you, or something that you think will be fun to change.   If you aren’t getting the results as soon as you would like, give yourself and your teen time to adjust.  Both you and they are worth it.   Perhaps it’s good for parents and teens to take a step back, and look at the “underneath” of how parents give children what they need to become competent, and capable adults.

Sandy Keiser

2 Responses to The Job of Parenting Teens

  1. jeanclarke says:

    Wow! Chores! I have a comment about Sandy’s teenagers noting that it is part of a parent’s job to teach children to do chores. The Overindulgence Research Studies show us that adults who did not do chores when they were children resent the resulting lack of everyday skills. Those kids got it right.
    Jean Clarke

  2. Thanks Sandy! The very first suggestion about not making assumptions has become a personal goal for me. It is so easy to shut down a conversation by saying the first thing that comes to my mind and not allowing my child/young adult to share their whole thought process. When I have been successful in shutting my mouth and opening my heart and my ears, I have been blown away by their wisdom and their insights and eventually their desire to know what I think.

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