Kids don’t come with a manual, and parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as your kids grow older. And when you’re dealing with teen moods and the ever-increasing quest for independence that goes along with adolescence, navigating parenthood can feel confusing, and at times, frustrating. We can all use a little help and advice at times. In keeping with that, here are 4 teen parenting mistakes to avoid at all costs:
1. Failing to Discipline: It can be hard to have the role of the disciplinarian. You love your children, and their happiness is important to you. And beyond that, you may worry that disciplining your teens will make them pull away from you, needing and wanting you less and less with each stern discussion or suspended privilege. But your kids need your guidance, and they need structure. Both help them stay on track and develop into productive, capable adults. It is critical that you continue to enforce your rules. Someday, they will thank you for it.
2. Disciplining Too Much: Some parents discipline too much, doling out punishments and lectures for even the most insignificant infractions. This type of parenting can push teens away, and it’s unfair. Everyone makes mistakes, and living in fear of constant consequences is unlikely to do your teen any good.
3. Controlling Everything: Remember how you used to decide everything from which clothes and haircut your child would sport to which snacks he would eat and the shampoo he would use? It’s time to relinquish some of that control and let him make age-appropriate decisions for himself. By doing so, you help your teen grow more independent, which is natural at this age. You also help him learn responsibility and the consequences (good and bad) of making his own choices. This doesn’t, of course, mean having him take the lead on everything. You’re helping him to grow up when you allow him to choose how long to wear his hair or which jeans to wear to school. Allowing him to decide what his curfew should be on school nights, however, is just setting him up for failure.
4. Expecting the Worst: Most teens are neither angels nor demons, yet many parents expect monster-like behavior on a daily basis. This sets teens up to fail. Just think how demoralizing it would be to have someone you love always thinking the worst of you no matter how hard you try. And sometimes, this type of negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember that your teens are human and will make mistakes, but expect the best, keep open lines of communication, and remain supportive rather than constantly watching for failure.
No one said parenting teens would be easy, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal either. By continuing to offer a balance of authority, love, support and attention, you can help your teens grow into thoughtful, responsible adults. Hopefully, you get there with as few gray hairs and worry lines as possible.