At some point in our parenting lives we’ve all had that moment–or will have that moment–where we remember what we were like as a teenager and for a brief second, we will know exactly what payback is. I’m being paid back. My only hope now, as the single mother of three who is also adopting my nephew, is that they too will have that moment some day and that I might be alive to witness it.
There was one particular day that I was so beyond frustrated with the kids that I called my mother crying and proceeded to tell her that she just didn’t understand; which is rather ridiculous considering I’m one of three children. As an aside, I prefer talking to my dad, he just laughs at me.
In a few weeks my oldest child will be 21. He’s amazingly charming, handsome, funny, and always–and I do mean always–finding his way into trouble. But even in those moments of getting called by the teachers and guidance counselors repeatedly there was one common thing that was said to me nearly every time, “He may find his way into trouble, but he’s always so polite and respectful.” I guess I did something right.
I’m not judging. I’m not perfect. In fact, my kids might have you believe I’m crazy and there are days that I’ve certainly felt crazy. But I watch some parents dealing with their children today and I just don’t understand. While the theory of being friends with our kids is nice on some level, parenting has to come first and foremost.
Before we go any further, I’d love to know who made the bright decision to let 18-year-olds be adults. I often laugh when I realize that I am now the “dummy” I once thought my parents were.
Below are some of the parenting tactics I’ve used over the years; right, wrong, or otherwise.
Bribing — I am not above stooping to some bribery when called for. I know some of you are going to completely understand, while some of you are going to be utterly shocked, and that’s okay. A little incentive can go a long way, especially when dealing with teens. I’m constantly explaining to my children that life is all about the choices we make and with each choice is a consequence or reward.
Withholding — I’m not a fan of the word “punish,” so I like to refer to it as withholding. Don’t be afraid to withhold things from your kids. Each child is different so you have to find that trigger, but when you do, don’t be afraid to pull it. To some this seems like common sense, but many parents are afraid their kids will be upset with them or they simply lack the follow through. That leads to an entirely different issue–finding balance. Being fair is necessary, but when each child is different you have to find what is going to affect them personally. My daughter would simply “Die” without her cellphone. No really, she swears this is true. While my son would hand over his cellphone in a heartbeat if that meant he could go to wing night with friends or to play basketball.
I’m sure other companies have something similar, but with T-Mobile cell phones, there’s a plan option to have the phone locked down during school hours. I love this; my kids obviously don’t, but it’s perfect for those times that you are fit to take the phone away but you, the parent, can still reach them.
Bribing and withholding can be effective when done right, but at the end of the day, it is all about communication. They may not want to talk, but you have to keep letting them know you are there and that they can talk to you about anything. I’m here to tell you that as they grow older you might even find that they talk to you too much, and next thing you know your eyes and ears feel like they are bleeding. But, on a serious note, this is especially great if they are being bullied, hurt, or had too much to drink at a party and know they can call you for anything under the sun.
Teenagers are complicated beings; we know, we’ve been there. Parenting is hard, and I admire the women that make it look so easy because I often feel like people just know how tired, stressed, and slightly crazy I am. Find other like-minded busy moms to talk to so you get a breather and someone to nod along with you! Don’t let them take you down.
This post was meant to be a lighthearted look at parenting and some of the ways I’ve dealt with issues over the years. I’d love to hear about how you are dealing with your own teens and what has worked for you.
This is a guest post by Chrissie, a freelance writer for various blogs, including Speedy Incorporation Service, which helps new small business owners incorporate online as well as offering advice and information about running their new business successfully via their small business tips blog.
Photo by helpfortroubledteens.net