Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Best Parenting Teen Ideas - part 2

I've learned over the years why God made teenagers. To punish us parents for the way we acted as children. OK, maybe that's not his purpose but it sure seems reasonable.

But let's face it one of our big struggles is that we simply don't know what they're going to do much of the time and frankly they don't either. They have these maturing, growing bodies facing all sorts of unknowns, peer pressures and challenges. But they typically don't have the emotional strength to handle all that. That's why they have melt downs or act out doing crazy things or take huge risks in order to be accepted.

So how do we as parents deal with them during these tough years while still enjoying the healthy spreading of their wings that will lead them to true independence?

First, we need to do a lot of talking and listening. Unfortunately if your kids are already teens and you haven't worked at this prior to adolescence the task will be much harder. Nonetheless, make times and relatively easy opportunities to just talk. Eat meals together, do some things alone, make conversations about hard things something normal not weird.

And don't buy into the silent treatment. Do not allow for doors to be slammed and for them to just walk away from any conversation. As I mentioned in my part one blog options are important. So do the same regarding conversation. You can say things like, "Ryan, you may not want to talk right at the moment, but when we get home (or in the morning or whatever) we need to have some time to talk about last night (or about your trip or whatever)."

When it's all said and done they need to learn to talk and really want to be heard and understood.

Second, let them know that you will keep your word. You don't have to be a tyrant but make it clear if you haven't already that if there is a curfew time you will hold them to it, expect them to call or meet whatever other boundaries you set. When you do this on the little things you'll be much more likely to be taken seriously on the bigger ones.

Even teens need to learn to keep rules and meet expectations. Yes, they should be given more freedoms as they get older but only if they're earning that freedom along the way. Our son was told that he had to call if he was going to be late and I told him I would be one of two places if he didn't call - in the car looking for him or on the phone with the police, especially if I thought that was warranted.

Not two weeks later we had an incident and I met him in my car in the middle of the street as he returned significantly late.  I was looking for him. I didn't yell, berate or give greater punishment than he deserved. But he knew I was serious about both discipline and looking out for him.  We didn't have a problem with lateness after that.

Too many parents don't take the time to do the hard work of both communicating effectively or setting reasonable boundaries and keeping them. You can be your kids' friend AND their parent but the parenting part always has to come first. And if you do that the friendship part will be even richer and stronger later when they're an adult.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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