6 Ways to Raise Awesome Teenagers
Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that (that’s when parents call me), but the overwhelming majority do not. I’ve worked with thousands of teens so I can testify to this. Expect more from your teen than a lousy attitude and lazy work ethic. Teens are awesome so expect awesomeness! Here’s how, according to Christie Halverson but with my commentary.
1. Love Them Fiercely
Yes… fiercely. As in everything about them as much as you can imagine loving another. Love their whit, their quirks, their messy hair, their scattered minds, their funky style, their type A, B or C personality. Love it all because they are growing in to glorious humans and you get to be a witness to that and you get to profoundly influence what they are growing in to. But just loving them isn’t enough. Love them so much that they are overwhelmed by it, inspired by it and propelled by it. Love them so much that they can’t help but experience it and be comforted by it. Demonstrate this love regardless of their performance. Love them fiercely just because they are yours.
2. Listen Extravagantly
When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you. Be excited to see them. And if that is hard or impossible because of bad behavior then call me and we can work that out.
Put down the cell phone. Don’t waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call or working on the computer. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don’t offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don’t lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.
3. Say Yes More Than You Say No
The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of “you’re not good enough” and “you can’t do this” crashing down on their heads. As adults, we experience this often. It’s draining, discouraging and defeating. Don’t be that voice in their life. Of course, there are things they can not do. But do you need to be the one to point that out? Or can they learn that on their own with you still being their cheerleader? If nothing else, instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they’re willing to work hard enough for it. Be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. Help them leave the house every day feeling invincible.
4. Say No Often
I know. I’m killing you with “say yes” then “say no”. There’s a reason so stick with me. This is more about saying no to experiences that will be harmful to them or expose them to too much, too early in their life.
You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don’t let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don’t let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex… or anyone for that matter. Teenagers need to be home and asleep in the middle of the night. Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but trust me, I’ve known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t.
5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room or the socks on the sofa as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. And sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s not. Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.
That being said, do you completely ignore the state of their bedrooms all the time? No, you do not. But pick your battles, and and pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they will do more happily because it’s not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when you ask, it needs to be done.
6. Stand Back and Watch the Magic Happen
If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others. I know, I know… it doesn’t always feel that way. But it’s almost always that way. If you go at it from that perspective you will find yourself responding differently to them, embracing them instead of trying to remake them. Imagine the power in that and the impact it will have on them as a human and on your relationship!
I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy. I am always here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.
Written by Lisa Smith
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