I like my teenagers. There, I said it and the sky didn’t fall in. If you Google most anything about teenagers, you’ll find all kinds of posts on how to “deal” with them and how their brains work different and how they sleep all day and how they need their independence… or how they are all on drugs or misusing social media.
Such a load of crap.
WE (the PARENTS) put those labels on our kids as if they are the same as those in-laws we need to tolerate every year at Christmas. You know, let’s just suck it up and get through it… those teenage years are just a phase we need to check off the calendar.
We forget (among the shoulder shrugging and eye rolling) that these are still those children we rocked to sleep and kissed their boo-boos. Sure, they’ve gotten taller… but they still need us just like they always have. Even more so. So stop looking at your teens as though they are possessed and start appreciating the fact that this is the last time in your life these gifts will be under your wing. They’ll be leaving for college soon and coming home adults. Don’t waste the time you have now.
Want to make the most of those teen years? Try these tips:
1. Have fun! Our kids enter high school and we suddenly feel we can’t just be goofy and have fun with them anymore. Plan a family date night with movie and dinner. Or take everyone to the amusement park for a spur of the moment outing. Act silly… sing and dance while cooking dinner. Yes, of course your kids will think your nuts… but inside they will think you are kind of funny.
2. Be THE house that their friends like to hang out at. Keep favorite snacks around so they’ll always have something to eat. Stock up on some of their favorite movies on DVD. Have a pool? Make sure you have extra towels around. Say yes to their friends staying for dinner.
3. Listen to the gossip. Our kids genuinely want to talk to us and tell us what is going on in their lives. We don’t take the time to really listen anymore. While we’re driving, turn down the music and let them share their day. Ask questions… sound interested. You might think they know you care… but they don’t… unless you SHOW them.
4. Share YOUR day with them too. It’s okay to talk to your kids as if they were a best friend. I love telling my kids when I’ve seen someone do something stupid at the mall or if I watched a ridiculous video. You don’t have to share everything and certainly don’t talk badly about anyone… but a few sentences of… “You would never believe it…” go a long way in building great communication.
5. Get off their backs... about their bedroom, their friends, and their clothing. Unless something is completely out-of-line or inappropriate, let them enjoy being a teenager. It goes by so darn fast that you don’t want them to miss out on this last taste of freedom. Is arguing with your kid over cleaning their room really worth the bad feelings that will carry through the next several days or weeks?
Priorities. Do we want to spend these last few years we have with them fighting and being angry, or do we want to enjoy our children… and all the craziness that comes with growing up? Have we forgotten we were once there ourselves? Remember how we all said (and yes, we ALL said it) that we would parent our teens differently? Well, what are we waiting for?