Congratulations, you’ve made it through the sleepless nights of raising babies. You survived the toddler years and you have successfully navigated your children through grade school. Now what? Do you get a reward for all that hard work? Yes, you get TEENAGERS!
There are many parents who are nearly destroyed by the fact that suddenly, their sweet children have turned into someone they don’t even recognize anymore. They are traumatized by the fact that a hormonal, combative troll has taken over the body of their little prince or princess. We all know how terrifying and powerful trolls can be and unless you find a way to tame the beast, your child’s teen years will be insufferable and looooong.
My oh-so-helpful-advice will be written in two parts. This is part one and lays the foundation I set for raising teens in my house. Please note that it may feel like I am kicking your butt, and I am a little, but only because I believe your teens need you desperately.
Some years back, a police officer, specializing in teens who broke the law, asked the kids he arrested what they wished their parents had done differently. Their universal answer was this: “I wish my parent(s) had given me hard and fast rules and made me abide by them.”
That is an amazingly insightful answer. Take a moment to let that sink in. Kids want their parents to give them rules to live by. Oh, they’ll never admit that and they’ll fight you on every rule you make, but they really do need the security of hard and fast rules. Having rules helps curb the chaos that is caused by their developing bodies and brains.
With that in mind, here is some advice for those in the midst of raising teenagers.
NEVER, EVER, EVER allow your teen to disrespect you (privately or publicly). There is no room for negotiation on this. I’ve had parents look at me and shrug their shoulders in victim-mode, like: “It’s the teen years, what can I do about it?” A LOT! Your teen may tower over you and outweigh you by 50 pounds of solid muscle, but guess what? You still have all the power. All of it. I don’t care if you are five feet tall and weigh 90 pounds, you are still Queen of the household and you still make the rules. Once your child knows you mean it, the teen years will go much smoother.
Also, never forget that the basic rules of child-rearing still apply to teens:
- There will be no idle threats. Mom means what she says (go ahead and test me!).
- Treat me with respect. Disrespect me in front of your friends and I’ll show you the meaning of embarrassment. I will not wait until we’re in private and it will be a significant emotional event that you will never forget.
- You will accompany the family to Church. Unless your leg falls off or a great loss of blood is involved.
- Your room isn’t “your” room. It’s mine. I will knock before I enter, but it is not off limits to me. As soon as you can handle a 30 year mortgage of your own, you may have your own room.
These rules may seem strict but believe me, they are necessary. Teens seem to revert back to testing the limits just like they did as toddlers. They will test you again and again. You will be exhausted and ready to give up. Don’t. Please don’t.
Be strong and of good faith, parents. Your hard work and diligence will pay off in the end. Your teen will most probably NOT thank you, but it is very possible that your adult child will (especially when they have teens of their own!).
Next week: Laughing Through the Teen Years!