Recently, when my partner and I saw an adorable toddler while shopping, I asked her, “Would you want to go back to that time if you could?” Without hesitation, she said, “No.” I feel the same way. Our kids are now 17 and 14 and while the toddler years do have a certain shine, we love where our kids are at now and not just because they no longer dart into the street.
In my experience, each stage of parenting requires different skills and I will admit that, sometimes, our kids have moved on to a new developmental stage before our parenting has caught up to them. Parenting changes constantly because our kids change and because what works for one kid may not work for another. My son talks openly about what’s going on in his life and what he thinks about it all but my daughter is much more private. Obviously, we have to approach each of them in ways that make sense for them.
As a result, I’m always open to new parenting strategies and advice. The Center for Parent and Teen Communication has put together 25 short pieces of advice that can help parents of teens navigate these years with grace.
Here are my top five:
Teenagers are learning to manage their emotions and reactions to things and we should strive to serve as role models in this regard. I know how important it is to listen and talk with my kids rather than at them and yet…I don’t always do it. It’s easy to get caught up in the heightened emotions and dramatic reactions to things but this piece of advice is such a good reminder for me to take deep breaths and keep calm. I should probably print this one out on an index card and keep it in my pocket.
There are a lot of negative stereotypes about teenagers out there but I love this age. They are clever and have interesting perspectives on things going on around them. They are such good company. It’s important that they know that we see them as individuals, not as the stereotypes. This is one of the things that we’re pretty good at around our house; we see them as unique and make sure that they know we appreciate their perspective and love them just as they are. In fact, we told our kids about our toddler conversation because we wanted them to know we wouldn’t trade who they are now for anything.
I like the idea of writing letters to my teens, especially my daughter who doesn’t always want to talk about things and says, “Okay, mom, that’s enough,” when I tell her what I love most about her. Our group of friends all had kids around the same time and one of our friends suggested that we celebrate each child as they turned 13. Part of that celebration included each adult writing the kid a letter filled with love and what we wished for each of them. So, we wrote letters to our kids when they turned 13. My son described it as “weird” and my daughter said it was “awkward.” But, I know for a fact that they both still have all the letters from all of us. I guess we’ll see what they make of them later.
The advice here is to stay the course as a role model for your kids. This one really hit home for me because my daughter throws the word “hypocrite” around like confetti and I struggle because sometimes we are hypocrites. There are different sets of rules for adults and teens and as much as I strive to avoid “Do as I say, not as I do” (which was my parents’ style), I sometimes fall short. This piece of advice arrived at the right time for me - a reminder that I’m not alone in my experience and that I need to hold steady.
“…feeling calm leads to a clear, problem-solving mind.” This is so true. Life can be overwhelming for all of us but especially for teenagers. There is so much pressure on kids these days. When our kids are freaked out by a project that is due, overwhelmed by their responsibilities, or just worried, I ask them, “What does this moment require of you?” Sometimes, I have to ask it more than once before they are able to stop and answer. but they always answer, even if the answer is “nothing.” It’s like a reset button for their busy minds (and mine - I use it myself all the time).
These are just five of the 25 pieces of advice you’ll find when you check out Parenting in 100 Words. Visit the site to learn more and then let me know which ones work for you!
This post was sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. All opinions are my own.