When thinking about parenting for teenagers the thoughts can become terrifying. Teenagers often seem so difficult to parent, and many of the things you might have learned with younger kids seem to lose their power when it comes to parenting for teenagers.
So for all you worried moms and dads, here’s our Top Ten Tips about Parenting for Teenagers in the 21st Century.
1. Develop Trust both Ways
Trust is a 2 way street, and if you expect your teen to be true to your trust, you need to make sure you are trustworthy also. Don’t promise them things you do not deliver, like a weekend away or a new game.
2. Teach them about Money
Managing money is something teenagers need to learn (as do we all!). Teach them early about the value of money, and delayed gratification, and teach them to save. Also, teach them to budget, even on a small allowance. These principles will never leave them if you do it correctly. As well, let them experience the cost of the latest fashions and technologies, don’t just buy things for them. They will soon learn that chasing fashion is expensive!
3. Accept that Communication is Technology
Parenting for teenagers involves coming to grips with the way they communicate, and these days this means learning some technology. Many teens won’t talk to you directly, or will do so very reluctantly, but what they will do is text or Facebook, so start texting them to have them share openly with you.
4. Monitor Technology
Kids love technology, and hand held devices are so common now, as is social media. However, you need to make sure that you keep an eye on their social media involvement. Who are they meeting online, and for what purpose? Might take a little snooping, but often teenagers are unaware of the dangers that lurk in cyberspace, so monitor it and encourage them to be open about it with you.
5. Let them follow their Interests
Teenagers have interests, and while you cannot let these overtake learning for example, encourage them to explore what interests them and to express it. Many will choose things like dancing, music, art or computer games, and set strict limits as to the time they can do things, but encourage them in it.
6. Fashion Speaks
Teenagers speak via fashion, so while you don’t want to be the fashion police, you still need to take control in this area. For teenagers, fashion is a way to express the group they belong to, so while you want them to belong to a group that accepts them, you don’t want them in the wrong group (like Goths or death metal)! So, if you can, exert some control especially when they are younger over what they wear.
7. The Dating Game
Sex and dating are part of growing up, and your view on the subject is likely to be reflected in your teen. It is not enough to say, “Don’t do what I do,” you need to model the right behavior in dating. Be very careful of times they spend alone with their peers and while you might encourage dating, don’t place temptation in front of them too often. Talk openly about sex, and especially about honoring members of the opposite sex. Tell them you love them regardless of any stupid decisions they might make.
8. Set Limits and Grow Confidence
Setting limits is responsible parenting for teenagers. Curfews are an important part of parenting them, and believe it or not they actually breed confidence and contentment. Within the boundaries you set the teen can have complete confidence and freedom, so set boundaries and set consequences before they are crossed.
9. Driving you Mad!
Teenagers gaining a license and starting to drive is a scary time for most parents. It takes a degree of trust to throw them the keys, but make sure that they also are driving responsibly especially the boys. You could attach a GPS to their car, or perhaps get them to call in to you at scheduled times. They need to take responsibility for their actions and any damage done, so help them to accept all sides of driving, the joy and the responsibility,
10. Take the Emotion out of Conflict
Your teen is going to let you down at some point. Be ready for it. Most importantly, take the emotion out of the situation and show them unconditional love, and you can save the lecture. Giving them the big lecture achieves exactly zero with most teens, other than the rolling of eyes, so when you dish out the consequences for their actions, do so without emotion. Avoid the screaming match at all times, because when you scream at each other, you lose.