I know I’m probably in the minority, but I love parenting and hanging out with teens and young adults. I guess that’s a good thing since we have six kids between the ages of 14 and 23.
But parenting teens especially teens who are one age chronologically and entirely different ages social-emotionally, academically, etc can be super tricky.
Dan Hughes talks about having a PACE attitude when we parent. (Side note: I’m starting to realize it works in so many relationships including marriage and work).
But how can we apply this practically to our teens?
More than micromanaging screentime, friend choices, or schoolwork, our teens need us to find ways to have fun with them. Dr. Bruce Perry, well-known child trauma expert, tells us that maturity is the cumulation of positive social-emotional interactions a person has. If you think your teen needs to “grow up,” the best thing you can do is have fun with them and provide a safe relationship. Finding common activities that your teen will do with you might be tricky. I find food is usually a good bet. My husband joins them in gaming. I also try to appreciate being used as a taxi because it gives us “forced” quality time together. Sometimes I let them choose the music or sometimes we’ll stop for a quick treat…here I am back at food again!
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As our teens grow into their own people with their own preferences, it can be hard to accept their choices. But our kids have told us that one of the things we did right over the years was be their biggest cheerleader in their choices and helping them recognize their strengths. Our kids will thrive when they have a sense of purpose, but the tricky thing is that it has to be their choice! I describe two ways this is playing out with our teens in the video below.
It can be easy to assume the worst about our teens, but jumping to quick conclusions will always drive your teen away. You can’t fake this one! In the video below, I share a recent example of this.
Even if you can’t relate to your teen’s angst, be empathetic towards it. (What I want to say, but what you should say instead).
If you need support, encouragement or just some solidarity as you parent your teens, click here to see our upcoming dates for Teen and Young Adult Q&A’s.