Parenting teenagers is not for the faint at heart. It is easily one of the most difficult stages of raising a child and there are a lot of mistakes parents should take caution to avoid. None of us will be perfect parents, of course, but we can do our best to be the best parent we can be when we are parenting teenagers.
Yelling is not an effective way of communicating with your child, no matter what their age. This holds true when parenting teenagers, too. When you begin to yell, your teenager will shut down and no longer hear what you are saying. But most parents do yell from time to time. This is usually because they feel frustrated when they are not getting through to their child. When you feel like this, it is better to take a time out until you, the parent, are calm enough to communicate more effectively.
2. Not Listening
It is very important to listen when you teenager talks to you. They are not always open to conversation so you have to grab those moments when they occur. This is a lesson I have had to learn while parenting my own teenagers. It is hard to do when you are in the midst of something but it is important to do so. You want to communicate with your teenager whenever they are open to it.
3. Being Too Busy in Your Own World
We as parents have our lives going on. We have jobs, finances to handle, our marriages to nurture and many other things going on in addition to parenting. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own world and forget to get involved in theirs. But we cannot do that. It is imperative that we find a way to get into our teenager's world, too. We need to talk, hang out and be available for them in whatever way they allow us to be.
4. Not Snooping
Another mistake parents of teenagers make is not snooping. I do not believe that you have to snoop all of the time but there will be times you need to do so. If you feel concern over something that is going on in your teen’s world and they are not willing to share with you, it is probably time to snoop. The best way to handle this is to tell your teenager there will be times that you look into their media accounts so they are aware it can happen ahead of time. That is part of the deal in our home. If our children wish to participate in social media, Mom and Dad have the passwords to those accounts.
5. Believing a Fantasy
I see a lot of parents that fall prey to this mistake. They believe that their teenagers are not capable of making the mistakes that other teenagers make. They think it is not possible that their teenager would lie, get into drugs or do other activities that teens sometimes get up to. While it is good to think the best of your child and have high hopes for them, you also have to be realistic and realize that the temptations are out there. It is good to realize that your teen could fall into those behaviors and be aware of the signs of it.
6. Not Supervising Your Teenager
A lot of parents believe that if their teenager is well behaved they are completely trustworthy and there is no need to supervise. This is false. While we want to recognize when our teenager is making good decisions, we still have to remember their age and maturity level. Teenagers are known for risky behavior and sometimes when their parents least expect it. You should always make sure your teenagers have adequate supervision, tailoring how much they need to your own unique child.
7. Not Talking about the Hard Stuff
A lot of parents of teenagers think that they do not need to cover the hard stuff with their teenager. You certainly do. You need to talk about all of it, even if you think it is not going to be something that your teen will ever face or be tempted into doing. I would much rather have these difficult conversations with my teens that were perhaps not necessary, than skip them thinking that my teens didn’t need that particular bit of guidance only to find out later that they did and regret that I did not cover it. It is much better to err on the side of caution.
Parenting teenagers is challenging but also rewarding. What advice do you have for parents with teenagers? I would love to hear from you.