Have big sighs and rolling eyes entered your home? You must be the parent of a tween or teen.
First off, let’s just get this fact out of the way: Mom, Dad, you are no longer cool. Even if you once were, you have officially lost your mojo, and it is your teen’s mission to let you know it.
Those big sighs and rolling eyes are a sign of something important. They are an indicator of the generation gap and the parenting shift.
Our teens live under our roof yet we do not live in their world.
Our lives intersect but we do not live the same life as our children.
One of the most eye opening experiences that best illustrates our kids’ world is taking an opportunity to walk through the halls of a middle school or high school during passing period. When we have a chance to observe the interactions and movement between classes it becomes clear our kiddos have a lot to navigate.
We are no longer parents of young children who walk in a straight line down the school corridor but instead parents of young adults who need to weave in and out in order to get to their destination.
Our younger kids state, “I’m not a baby anymore.” Our older kids declare, “I’m almost an adult.”
These proclamations give moms and dads a heads up. It is time adjust and do a parenting shift.
No matter the age or stage, most moms and dads want to maintain respect in the home. Here are 7 ways to impact your teen’s almost adult phase, while keeping respect intact.
“R” Respect. Expect respect. My friend counselor Lucille Zimmerman reminded me of Dr. Phil’s Life Law #8 . “We teach people how to treat us.” If we want respect to reign in our home we start with us. Talk and act with respect. Then we train by expecting respect from others,“I treat you with respect. I expect respect in return.”
“E” Empathy. Our kids need to know that we fully understand feelings of disappointment and discouragement. Do a lot of listening when your young person comes to you. Be humble enough to admit you too have experienced pain. The more they feel heard and understood the more they will seek out your ear. When they are ready to open up be sure you are available.
“S” Self-Control. With all the emotional upheaval in the teen years self-control can seem out of reach. But self-control is a learned behavior. Help your tweens and teens learn how to self-regulate by operating out of their logic not emotions. Use words like: ponder, consider, think, evaluate, reassess. Focus less on the feelings aspect (they have that down pretty well already). Once our kids can make decisions based on logic rather than feeling they are less likely to engage in behavior they will regret later. (Click here for more information on conscience development)
“P” Persevere. The hang-in-there-muscle is developed by repeatedly and patiently working through problems. Admittedly it is hard for moms and dads to sit by and watch a child struggle yet that is the best way to actually empower your kiddo. Avoid the temptation to rescue your teen. Support, coach, consult, and encourage but don’t save the day. The day belongs to the child and he ought to be one to claim the victory. (Click here to read 10 Ways to Avoid Enabling. Empower Your Child Instead.)
“E” Empower. Empower your young adult with these biblical messages: You are capable (Philippians 4:13), You are loved (John 3:16). You are equipped (2 Timothy 3:16-17). You are created for a purpose (Psalm 138:8). (Click here to read 15 Empowering Messages to Give Your Kids )
“C” Consult. Of course there are times the parent of a teen will revert back to the roles of controller (rule setter) or chum (best buddy) but mostly in the teen years, parents must make the shift to the coach (encourager and guide) and the consultant (trusted adviser). We want to provide godly influence while we cheer our kids on to think for themselves. (See below for more information on parenting roles)
“T” Time. As hard as our kids push away from us and attempt to shut down communication, what they really need from us is time. Be a student of your young adult. Discover who he is today. What are his likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests? Who does he like to hang out with and why. What music does he like? What is his favorite fast food restaurant? Let him teach you something. Enjoy being together. Build your relationship so it lasts a lifetime. (The Secret to Parenting Well)
The other day I was talking with some parent coaching clients about the roles of moms and dads. The dad articulated the parenting shift perfectly. He said,“Once you think you really have this parenting thing down then something changes and you have to learn a new way.” Yep. Parenting and the parent-child relationship is fluid never static—ever-changing and hopefully everlasting.
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor. Proverbs 21:21