Recently, Cat posted a picture with her 21 year-old son, commenting that the teen years are tough, but you eventually get back to that spot where they love you again. She received a ton of comments asking “But how?!”, and requests for a vlog on the topic. So today, Cat has teamed up with AJ, another parent of teens, to dole out some tips.
Whether you’re right in the weeds of pre-teen/teen parenting, or looking out to the future, these tips will help you. Let’s cut right to the chase though and know that you WILL get through this.
First of all… how do Cat and AJ know? While they’re not “parenting experts” (because is there really such a thing?), they both have teens of their own, and Cat even has a couple who have come out on the other side. AJ has two teens and one pre-teen, and full-disclosure, thinks the pre-teen years may be even worse. Cat often feels like a punching bag, and like many of us, has heard “you’re ruining my life” more often than she can count. She reminds us that our teens need to find themselves before they re-find you again.
1) You are their parent, not their best friend.
They need parenting from you at this stage, and in fact, this is actually when you need to parent them more than ever. While they are out pushing boundaries, you need to be the one pulling them back to keep them from going too far. Often, that will mean you’re not the “cool parent,” but it’s still what they need from you.
This is definitely harder when you’re in a co-parenting situation with another parent not in the same household. There may be one parent who is more peripheral, not checking on homework, giving curfews, etc. In a situation like that, there may be even more push-back from your teens.
2) Show empathy.
We were all teens at one time, and did similar things to our own parents. Think about what you were like as a teen to help put yourself in your teenager’s shoes. Try finding a story to tell that’s similar to a situation they’re dealing with. Above all, listen to them and make sure they know it.
3) Be sure they know they can come to you with things.
They will try things we wish they wouldn’t try. You are their safe place to land, so be sure they absolutely know that. They need to know that if they (or a friend) are in an unsafe situation, you’ll be there to get them out without judgement.
You can still discuss the situation “tomorrow,” but wait to do so until you can be calm, empathetic, and without judgement.
4) Offer therapy.
AJ compares mental health therapy to exercise. You don’t wait to exercise until you’ve had an injury. Rather, your fitness program helps to prevent injuries. Treat therapy the same way – help your teens keep up their mental health before it becomes an issue.
Offer and encourage them to give therapy a try, even if they’re resistant. Don’t require any long-term commitment. It may take a few attempts before you find the right therapist fit (and it may be a different person for each of your kids).
There may be times when your teen needs to talk to a trusted adult who is not their parent. Having an existing therapist relationship will provide that independent adult ear for them whenever it’s needed.
5) It is normal to feel like their punching bag.
As a parent, it hurts to hear “you are ruining my life,” or “you are the worst parent ever.” Like us, you may even think “Am I?”. Nope, you’re not, and it’s fairly universal amongst parents. The times you are getting pushed the hardest are the times they need your love the most, even if they’re asking for it in a really tough way.
6) You CAN still enjoy this stage.
Learn… (read the rest here: https://bit.ly/3fyWmef)
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