It might seem strange for a person who isn’t even thinking about parenthood to write advice in a parenting article.
Yet I may offer some of the best parenting advice you’re not hearing because I’m offering advice from the perspective of your teenagers. There are a lot of parenting books, magazines, and advice columns out there, but little of it is from the perspective of the teen.
Here’s some advice that I’ve collected through things I’ve seen, heard, and experienced first hand.
Parenting Advice From a Teen
Let us make mistakes.
We will never learn from our mistakes unless you allow us to make some. Growing up is a learning process, but bailing us out of every situation and being afraid of seeing us fail won’t help us out at all. Let us fall down and make mistakes, but more importantly, let us get back up and brush ourselves off.
Become our friend when we leave for college.
After 18 years of having a parent, it’s time to reconfigure your relationship with us. We don’t need a parent anymore...we need a friend. You don’t have the same control over us you did in our younger teenage years. If we come to you with a situation and need your input, don’t judge us — understand us.
Communication is more important than you think.
We may go up to our room, close the door and blare our music. We might even stay out late with our friends, but don't forget that you are still on the top of our priority list.
We still want to communicate and talk to you, and since we are older, you might enjoy talking to us too — but we won’t start opening up if the lines of communication are closed. We won’t feel like we can talk to you if there is judgment, disappointment, and disinterest surrounding us.
We might not outright say that we want to spend time with you, but deep down, that’s how we feel. You might have to take the initiative and schedule some quality time.
Talk about sex.
Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to sex. If you aren’t talking to your teens about all the ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or STDs, then you are setting yourself up for problems.
Even though this might be an awkward conversation for you and your teenager, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. The people who are the most safe are the teens that have had an open and honest conversation with their parents.
Sheltering them does not help.
If you keep sheltering your teenager, they won’t know what happens in the real world.
Here’s a reality check: You aren’t sheltering them from the world, you are sheltering them from your own parenting insecurities. From my experience, the kids who are the most sheltered are the kids that have the hardest time adjusting to college life.
Allow your teens to experience new things and let them discover who they are and who they want to be on their own. If not, your child will start to resent you and miss out on the beauty of being young. Encourage them to make good decisions and to think about the decision-making process, but at the end of the day, you need to trust that you did an amazing job raising your child and trust your teen.
Accept them for who they are.
They may love tattoos, piercings, or their remote control. Maybe they have that boyfriend that you don’t like or an aspired career path that you don’t agree with. No matter what your child is into, they are still your pride and joy. You have to love them for whoever they and remember — they are not you.
Allow them to find their own individual way sof expressing themselves and their own aspirations.
Your teenagers need you.
No matter how grown-up we may seem, we need you now more than ever.
Navigating through the trials and tribulations of adulthood is scary. We can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel and we don’t know what our future holds. We won’t always be able to get advice from our friends, as they are often having their own identity crises.
We need advice from someone who has been there. We need you. Help us with whatever path we want to take. Don’t discourage us, but instead, question what we want to do so that it makes us think. We will gain friendships and even families through these next couple of years, but you are our number one support system.
Nothing will ever be able to replace that.