What Every Parent Should Know About Raising Teens

In case you haven't caught it yet, they expect you to fail at parenting. Who are "they?" Everyone. Your in-laws, your cousins, your dog and your parents all expect you to fail miserably at raising your kid(s), especially during the teen years. It's a motiff, a statistic, a played-out story-line that's in every movie, novel and television show. They're all thinking,

You will fail, because I failed.

Does it have to be true? Is this some cosmic, cruel joke or hard and fast rule like gravity you can't escape? No, it's just a reflection of well-meaning people with varying motives trying to either justify their own failures or who simply parrot what the culture expects. Don't worry about them, the real question is, how are you going to prove them dead wrong?

Here are 3 tips to step up your game as a parent. If you don't have teens yet, you may one day, so read on and take it for what it's worth.

What Was Aretha Franklin Singing About?

You've got that right: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Then she'd croon, "Find out what it means to me!" Great advice, something every parent should remember. Your children are people, even if they are hormone-producing monsters at times. It's Dr. Jekyll one moment and Mr. Hyde the next.

Through it all, despite it all - they want respect, just like you. Shock them, especially as they get older, and give it to them. Dignify them when they speak, ask their opinions, enable them to communicate with you. Treat them like they're your kids, and you love them. Show them you care, beyond getting up and going to work each day. A little respect goes a long way.

A little bit of sarcasm and insulting words go a long way, too, but in the wrong direction. If you don't have anything uplifting or affirming to say, then bite down really hard and smile.

When Not To Blow a Gasket

This is easy: never. Hey, alright, you've had a bad day at work, your boss is cranky city, your commute stinks and your bills are piling up. That should not inform your parenting one bit. None of that is an excuse to vent on your teen.

Let's say your teen did something really...teenager-ish. They backed your car into the mailbox. They played hookie from school. Whatever it is - venting your anger isn't the same thing as disciplining your child. Never confuse or mix the two.

Angry words are like stoking the flames - sparks flying about everywhere, the flames surge higher and hotter. They don't provide relief. They wound you as the parent (your credibility goes way down). They also hurt worse than fists, and sting for far longer. Don't give yourself the opportunity or excuse to vent.

After all, if you don't remain in control of your tongue, why should they?

Do as I say...Not as I Do

There's nothing better than hypocrisy to make your credibility and respectability dwindle to oblivion in your teen's eyes. Not much more needs to be said here, other than the fact that your teenager won't do what you say if you can't do it yourself. Who would?


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