So we all know how much parents joke about their fear of the teen years approaching, right? I don’t know how you feel about this stage of parenting, but I for one, totally get it! It’s not that I ever truly feared this stage, but more that I just felt it coming so fast! I swear, the days really are long, but the years are so short – I can hardly wrap my mind around the enormity of the paradox. I just can’t even.
Plus, now that my oldest daughter is 13, but I still have plenty of friends and family my age having babies, it sometimes gives me cognitive dissonance to be at such a different stage of life than my peers. I guess we’ll just call me a trailblazer – I always did march to the beat of my own drummer 😉 I was the first of all my friends to get married and have babies, so since I’m sometimes asked about what it’s like by all those early on in their parenting journey, I thought it’d be fun to also share with you some of the most helpful hints I’ve learned in my first foray into parenting a teenager.
So here are the most effective ways I have found to show my teenager love — kid tested, mother approved! 🙂
- Show visible interest in your teenager’s interests, even when their mood of the moment leads to an astonishingly random assortment of ever-changing topics they actually want to talk about.
- Resist the temptation to tell your teen you’ll talk about an issue on their mind later. Sure you may be busy, but by the time you’re free, oftentimes the moment is gone and your child can’t or won’t talk about it later.
- Encourage them to invite friends over, and offer to do the driving whenever possible.
- Help your teen understand there is truth in conventional wisdom that says that most people become like the 5 people they spend the most time with. Help them to choose wisely!
- Take the time to volunteer with your teenager – if this is modeled as a way of life consistently enough, they can’t help but to internalize the family values learned along the way and carry them into adulthood. Empower them to be the change they wish to see in the world!
- Become known as the neighborhood go-to spot for snacks, (we all know the way to any kid’s heart is through food – especially teens)! The extra time and expense pays dividends in time making memories at home for your child. She may feel ready to spread her wings but can hardly ever resist a soft place to land!
- Continue an age-appropriate version of the birds & the bees talk with your teen as long as they live under your roof. Let them learn from you rather than social media, movies, and magazines.
- Parent with grace rather than judgement. Rather than instilling fear, set boundaries in love. If your child knows you’re a safe person to share their worries and ask their questions of because you’re approachable rather than condemning, then you are building trust to last a lifetime.
- Tuck your teenager in at night, whenever you can, for as long as they’ll let you! This tends to be the sweet-spot time of day for most kids to open up, no matter how old they are.
- Remember that in many ways, teens are in the most awkward stage of life and you were a teenager once too 😉 This too shall pass, and pass quickly – in the meantime they can use your encouragement that you survived these years and they will too!
In need of a few great books to read on the topic of parenting a teenager? I like Raising a Modern-Day Princess, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition (Resources for Changing Lives), Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens (Secret Keeper Girl Series), Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World, and More Than Just the Talk: Becoming Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex.
Here are a few great books to hand to your teen too, A Girl’s Guide to Making Really Good Choices, Teen to Teen: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls, It’s Not About Me Teen Edition, and God Girl: Becoming the Woman You’re Meant to Be.
Looking for more? Read up on the classic, funny moments of motherhood and see what resonates with you or check out last year’s parenting favorites at She Lives Free! You can also learn about parent and family coaching and educational consulting offered here through Live Free Coaching and Consulting if you’re in need of someone to come alongside you in this journey called parenting.
Are you or were you the parent of a teenager? If so, what has your time in the trenches taught you? Do you sometimes struggle with how fast the years are flying by or are you mostly looking forward to your empty nester years?