by Ann Breoff
The teenage years can be a test of wills. Here are 10 things that your teen will eventually thank you for.
1. Being a good parent, not a good friend.
Parents are teachers, role models, protectors. Parents enforce bedtimes, impose curfews, and don’t buy their kids every new tech gadget or let them use them unmonitored. Good parents certainly don’t share their own problems and burdens with their kids. Or at least they shouldn’t.
2. Saying “no” once in awhile.
As parents, it is our nature to try to say “yes” as much as we can. We want our kids to be happy and we say things like “They are only kids once, so it’s OK to spoil them.” That’d be wrong. Sometimes, you need to say “no” to them too. It’s an early lesson on how to cope with disappointment and gives them the ability to not be crippled by it. Life won’t always go their way. Learning how to handle things and move on are valuable life lessons.
3. Not handing out trophies for showing up.
In the quest to instill high self-esteem in our kids, some of us deluded them into thinking they were the best, the greatest, the fastest, the smartest — even when they weren’t. Look at the shelves filled with AYSO and Little League trophies. Plead guilty now, if you must. While having high self-esteem is great, so is the ability to know that most rewards in real life tend to go to those who actually work the hardest.
4. Not bringing your baggage to the table.
Sure the divorce was ugly and the dating scene is brutal. Don’t make your problems your kids’ problems.
5. Not judging their friends.
The girl your son brings home may be sporting a skirt so short that there’s nothing left to the imagination. Your daughter’s new best friend is failing classes and wants your A-student to be her new homework partner. Your kids bring home new friends who you don’t like for myriad reasons. Just keep your mouth shut. If you’ve done your job, these friends will fall away through the filtering process. By not rushing in with a judgement, you are allowing your kids to form their own.
6. Giving them a “no questions asked” $20 bill for a ride home.
It shows you trust them (to not get in the car with an intoxicated driver) and that you remember what it was like being their age. Be glad they are safe.
7. Supporting them when they feel ready to leave the nest.
Not all baby birds learn to fly at the same time. But the only way to know they are ready is to let them try.
8. Letting them make their own mistakes.
While your mistakes were traumatic and life-altering, they were your mistakes. Nobody but you can really learn from them. Let your kids figure it out.
9. Teaching them about manners.
Manners are based on consideration of others. Teach them to say “please” and “thank you.” Teach them to hold doors for strangers, to not cut off other drivers, to offer to help when they see someone who needs it. Teach them kindness.
10. Teaching them how to disagree while still loving someone.
Not every quarrel is the final quarrel. Not every disagreement means the end of a relationship. Teach them how to fight clean.