5 Mistakes To Avoid Making With Your Teen

Parenting a teenager can be a challenge. Let’s face it, the world seems to be a different place from when I grew up in the 80’s/90’s. All teens are going to test a parents patience as they grow and gain independence, but they still need you even if they hate to admit it! Here are 5 steps to ease the conflict and open communication.

  1. STOP EXPECTING THE WORST.

Growing up, as teens my sister and I were constantly accused of doing drugs or having sex by our mother, who struggled as a single mom. She expected the worst from us and had no problem ransacking our rooms looking for “proof” of our bad behaviors. Neither my sister or I had sex until we were well out of the house. I didn’t experiment with drugs until my mid twenties, after the birth of my twin girls. *I then developed a terrible drug addiction that led me to prison later in life. I touch on the beginning of my addiction here:

https://medium.com/@248171f2b455/44be5b15e7af

It’s tough enough to be a teenager, let alone when guilt and suspicion are lurking behind every conversation you have with a parent. You are setting your teenager up for failure and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your standards of approval can never be met, there will seem like no point in trying.

2. STOP PROTECTING YOUR CHILD FROM THE REALITIES OF LIFE

We hate to see our children disappointed or hurting, but if their choices aren’t putting them at risk, give them the freedom to make their own choices and deal with those consequences. You can still be there to encourage and offer guidance, but it’s okay to also let them discover their own strengths and weaknesses.

Equally, if you don’t like their taste in clothing or music, don’t berate them for it. Let them figure out who they are and who they want to be on their own. We didn’t have children to perfect clones of our own interests.

3. DON’T IGNORE THE REDFLAGS OF EARLY ADDICTION.

Talk to your children about substance abuse early. If you suspect your teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol, do not ignore it! Have a conversation, be an active listener. At the same time, be an informed parent. It’s a different world than the one you may have grown up in.

In my days, drinking or smoking pot was a teenagers rite of passage. Although I didn’t experiment with drugs or alcohol, I never had a single healthy conversation with my mother about it either.

Teens today are faced with more substances thst could kead to dependence and abuse than ever before. Be aware of the medications in your home and the amounts in the bottles. We live in an era of cough syrup and opioid abuse. Being knowledgeable is not the same as being hyper-vigilant.

Watch for changes in their behavior, daily routines, and friends. In recovery circles we call this “People, Places and Things”. Don’t make accusations, but if you see real evidence, you must take action.

4. FIND BALANCE IN DISCIPLINE

Just as too little discipline is a hinderence to their own self-discipline, being too authoritative and cracking the proverbial whip can be equally damaging. You want to loosen the leash enough to allow them to make good decisions when you aren’t looking over their shoulders pressuring them to do the next right thing.

Set up this balance early. Starting this process at tween or teen years is challenging if they aren’t used to the stability of knowing clear routines, and expected to adhere to basic rules. All kids need structure and dependability.

Growing up in a house where a child is walking on eggshells, can lead to anxiety and depression, while reinforcing a lack of self-control. This takes away from the possibility of problem-solving on their own. It can also lead to a lack of leadership skills later in life.

5. STOP BEING SO BUSY.

I get it. Life is busy. It can be hard to balance work, parenting, and self-care. Outside influences and stressors complicate the basic “Life is Busy” cliché, trust me, I get that too. Your teen needs you. Even when it seems you aren’t wanted. It’s all too easy to rely on the notion that teens don’t want their parent(s) around. Most teens want to spend more time with their parents. Building a healthy relationship early is key. You have more influence than you think.

What are your tips for surviving the teenage years? I need all the help I can get! Thanks for reading.

**photo credit Giralt via Pixabay