There’s something about having children that hinders your use of common sense. Over-thinking situations, and a strong desire to get it right can often cloud your judgment, affecting your ability to use the common sense that is second nature in every other aspect of your life. Parenting teens is never easy, but it’s time to go back to grass roots, and parent with common sense.
1. Act like a parent.
Common sense, right? Well, not always. It is easy to slip out of the parental role and into one of a friend, but it is important to remember that you are there to help and guide your child, not be their pal! When parents choose to be friends with their children, the balance falters, and this is especially true with teens. If you aren’t a firm authoritative figure, the dynamics of the relationship can break down, leading to a lack of respect, a loss of boundaries and decreased understanding of what is acceptable behavior.
Furthermore, be wary of allowing your teen to be your confidante; although they are growing up, they don’t need to be privy to your concerns or worries, as this will only overload them with emotions and thoughts which they may find hard to deal with. Your teen needs a strong role model, one that listens and cares for them, but ultimately, one that disciplines them.
2. Welcome technology.
Perhaps not with open arms, but accepting that technology is a huge part of your teen’s life is necessary. As a parent, you have every right to feel concerned, and acknowledging that this is how the world is today isn’t the same as letting your teen do whatever they like. It is important to monitor their online activity, know who they are talking to, and ensure that they are safe, but it is more valuable to explain the risks and educate your teen in how to protect themselves online. If you are somewhat of a fossil, not knowing an iPad from your elbow, then you need to educate yourself. Being fearful, or having a strong aversion to technology, could be down to a lack of understanding; the more you know about the world your teen lives in, the better you can help them navigate it carefully.
3. Talk to your teen.
Research indicates that the more you talk inside the home, the less trouble your teen gets in out of it, so keep the lines of communication open at all times, not just when something serious crops up.
Chat about your day, and ask them about theirs. Teens are often non-communicative, and it can feel as though you are fighting an uphill battle; however, getting into the habit of chatting with your teen means that it is much easier for them to come to you when they do have a problem, or are concerned about something. When you talk to your teen, make sure it is a two-way street; don’t dominate the conversation, instead allow your child the opportunity to voice their opinions, and be respectful of what they have to say. When you do have something important to discuss, explain it rationally using logic that a teen can understand, and try to avoid using a demanding, controlling manner.
4. Let your teen have some control.
This doesn’t mean that you let them come home at all hours, or decide whether they do their homework or not, it is about empowering your child so that they have a say in how things play out in their life. As a teen grows, they crave independence, and it is important not to stifle it; encourage them to make their own choices and decisions, and guide them along the way rather than dictating. Teens need to learn how to cope in the real world, and having an environment that cultivates their sense of independence will be invaluable to them in the long run.
Parenting a teen is not easy, and there’s no manual to read when times get tricky. However, when you feel things are spiraling out of control, taking a step back. Assessing the situation using a common-sense approach can give you some much-needed clarity!