Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, but let’s face it; even if it did, you probably would be better off not reading it. Our kids are all unique individuals, as are you, so raising them the right way is different for every single family. However, there are certain signs that you are doing a good job, and if any of these apply to you, then reward yourself with a well-earned pat on the back!
They Confide in You
Adolescence can often be a confusing time for your child, and although you might have previously had a very close relationship, it is easy for a bridge to form between kids and their parents during the teen years. This can cause communication to falter and a reluctance for them to share their thoughts or feelings.
Parents who are open, listen carefully to their teens, show compassion, understanding, and are non-judgemental, are more likely to have a teen who seeks their advice. So, if your teen is happy to tell you about their latest crush, then you’re doing something right!
You’re Vigilant Without Being Controlling
A tricky one, this, and one that many parents of teens get so horribly wrong. It is scary stuff letting them venture off into the world by themselves (even if it is only for a night out with friends), and of course your teen needs protecting. Just not necessarily all the time.
The ideal teen parent is able to loosen the reins a little. Although they still watch very closely, it isn’t controlling. Of course, you need to be there to help guide your teen towards making the right decisions, but it shouldn’t be heavy-handed. You’re doing a good job if you give your child the space to spread their wings, allow them to make (some of) their own choices, and let them be who they want to be.
Your Discipline is Spot On
Another minefield to perilously cross, but a crucial aspect of raising teenagers, is discipline. Many parents feel a loss of control as their kids hit the teenage years; they are no longer babies you can keep an eye on every hour of the day. This can lead to strict rules, cracking down so hard that teens barely have the room to breathe.
Alternatively, the polar opposite might happen, when parents who already feel on eggshells with their hormonally-charged teen, offer no discipline at all, fearing the prospect of conflict and worrying that it might push their child away even further.
Make no mistake, teens need discipline, and parents who are getting it right are being firm, consistent and fair. However, good discipline is not about ruling teens with an iron rod, or constantly dictating. Parents with a handle on discipline make it clear that there are firm boundaries and rules to follow, and that there will be consequences if they are broken.
You Don’t Always Expect the Worst-Case Scenario
Teens can sometimes get an unfair bad rap, and this means that some parents automatically assume the worst. Teen years are often a fraught time, and many parents enter them with already preconceived notions about how terrible it is going to be.
Yes, it is possible that your teen is going to turn into a monosyllabic grunting machine, skip school or experiment with drugs, but the negativity induced by worrying about it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re doing it the right way if you take each day as it comes, don’t jump to conclusions, and value your teen for the person they are, rather than what you might expect them to be.
You Follow Your Instincts
Although raising a teen in the era of technological advances has brought some positives, there have been many pitfalls that have jumped on board for the ride. Years ago, you didn’t have a million and one snippets of advice at your fingertips; it was trial and error for the large part, using common sense and perhaps the odd word from an experienced family member.
Parenting these days is seriously lacking common sense; our default reaction when dealing with a situation that worries us, is to scour the internet for advice or delve into a parenting book. Sometimes, this can be helpful, but more than likely, you will be inundated with information that bears no relevance to your life or your teen.
Parents who go back to grass roots, use initiative and follow their own instincts are better equipped to deal with teenage years. Well-meaning (and sometimes not so well-meaning) advice is often confusing, and can make us doubt our abilities as a parent; however, the simple (yet, so easy to forget) fact is that there is only one person who knows what’s best for your child. And that’s you.