Friday, September 9, 2011

5 Tips for Getting Along With Your Teens


ABCs of Homeschooling


T: Teenagers


In the last couple of weeks, I've had several people asking me how I manage to get along so well with my teens and adult children. My response is usually that I have no clue, it is what is. But the questions got me thinking; Is there anything I can pass on to others, any tips that may influence someone's relationship with their teenagers? I thought about it awhile and then asked for input from my two teenage boys. Here's what we came up with:

(Disclaimer: My kids are as imperfect as their mother, you may or may not want your kids turning out anything like mine. In fact, that's what the first tip is all about!)

1. Don't expect perfection. Many times we expect more from our children than we do from ourselves. They are human, just like us, and come complete with flaws and weaknesses, usually the ones that are similar to our own (Imagine that!). Be careful not to fall into the trap of seeing only their weaknesses. On the other hand, be careful not to be one of those annoying parents who sees nothing but their strengths. Either extreme merely weakens your relationship, as your teen is well aware that he has both and will tend to either feel picked on or as though he's pulling something over on you.

2. Don't care more about what everyone else thinks than you do about your teen. Most parents would never admit to this, and ultimately they would never put other's opinions first, but how many live this every day? Actions do speak louder than words and when the only reason you won't let your teen get a mohawk or dye their hair blue or wear ripped jeans is because you're worried about everyone else may think or say, you're placing other's opinions as more important than your teen's.

3. Do allow them to be who they are. They don't have to like the same music you do or the same fashions. They don't have to be sports fans if they prefer the theater. They don't have to like video games if they prefer politics. It's great when families can share the same passions and interests, but it's okay to support diverse interests as well. I don't know how many grunge metal bands I sat down and listened to with my oldest son just because he wanted to share the newest music he'd found. Am I a fan of grunge metal? Not really. But he wanted to share and I wanted him to continue wanting to share. (Although there were times I complained of a headache and made him turn it off, I admit! Don't expect perfection from me either!)

4. Do be who you are. When I had my first child, I decided I needed to become Suzy Homemaker and have all the neighborhood kids over to play while I baked them cookies. Yeah, that made me miserable. I am not Suzy Homemaker, I don't like all the neighborhood kids (GRIN) and I burned the cookies. I learned quickly that I don't have to be TV mom, I can be who I am and my kids will appreciate that. Teens can spot a fake right away. They'll accept you much more quickly, flaws and all, if you're straight with them. Be real, allow them to be real, and build a real relationship.

5. Don't hover. Be available for your kids but don't be helicopter mom. Give them some space and trust them more than you don't. They will screw up and I know that's the biggest fear we have as parents. We remember our own escapades and we don't want them to be repeated. Share your mistakes and stories with your teens. I always tell my kids that they may as well learn from mine rather than repeat them, they can make their own mistakes rather than wasting mine!

I actually have more to share than I realized but this is getting too long! The biggest thing mentioned in the discussion with my teenage boys was being who I am and allowing them to be themselves. That ability to be independent beings within a family structure has gone a long way toward keeping us close. Oh, and above all loving each other and having fun! Add a little crazy to your life. It helps keep you sane.

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