They grow up so fast! That infant I adopted at birth is now in 10th grade! A high schooler!
And also a teenager. Remember the terrible twos? Now I see those were the easy days! These years are much tougher. Our poor kids have so much more to deal with then we ever did. Cell phones didn’t exist, and there was no social media. This does force our kids to grow up even faster, and it is up to parents to stay aware of the things in their lives, so that we can help out children navigate these years.
To be honest, my son and I bicker constantly about school, and what I expect of him. We also have deep discussions, because the channels of communication need to remain open and my child needs to know he can rely on his dad. This balance takes a lot of work, and I have curated a parenting playlist: my “Parenting Playlist” is curated from the playlist created by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication: Parenting in a 100 words. I chose the ones that work best for me (not in any particular order), and I encourage you to visit the site and see which of the 25 work for you. Feel free to share on social media with the hashtag #parentingplaylist
1. You taught your kids to wear a helmet while biking and a seat belt while riding in a car — now it’s time to teach them how to deal with stress.
Raising our children includes teaching them life skills, and this is an important one! I discuss with my son how important sharing his feelings are, and how getting things out of his head will help them to become less important, and therefore, less stressful. This is a work in progress! I have t catch my almost 16 year old son at the right time to get him to open up. Luckily, we do have open communication.
2. Punishments don’t actually work (surprise!), but you know what does? Discipline.
This is one that I had to think long and hard about, one that I have to practice daily. I was raised by punishment, I prefer to raise my son with consequences. There is a difference. I try not to threaten to take things, and that is a big step for me in my parenting role. After all, it worked when I was being raised. In the end, it is not my best tool today, so we discuss consequences when behaviors need correcting.
3, Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean accepting any and all behaviors.
Another one that I have to keep in the front of my mind. I have been raising him since birth, loving him every minute. That never disappears. It may hide on occasion! Sometimes it is just about saying “I love you,” when it is not expected. A great reminder to myself and my child. And I practice not waiting for it to be said in return.
4, Teens need to hear that they’re awesome from the adults in their life.
This doesn’t mean lie to your kids, this means be supportive with your words. I constantly tell my son how smart he is when he shows me good school work. I know berating him for the stuff that he doesn’t do will not help my end game, which is his getting the best education. I catch myself trying t repeat words that I heard growing up, and then correcting them and finding the positive.
5. The way to support success in school isn’t to make school only about the gradebook.
I forget this one all the time. We eat dinner as a family and I ask my son about his day, everyday. But the way we parents ask questions can make a difference in the responses we get. Maybe then he won’t eat in record time to get back on his phone. For example, in his social studies class he was reading about the Haitian revolution. I told him that I never understood how Haiti and the Dominican Republic were different halves of the same island. He explained their history to me, and that helped his self-esteem, getting to show off his knowledge to his dad!
6. How you feel links to how you think, and emotions are contagious.
Wow. I have to stop and think about my own feelings and then share them in a mutually beneficial way with my child. The generation that raised me did not stop and think, they just reacted. This is more work, and I am hoping for a more successful teenage experience for my son! I don’t want negative feelings, so I work hard in turning my own emotions into a more useful feeling when I talk to my child, so that he associates talking to me with a more positive energy then I felt when I spoke to my parents growing up.
This doesn’t happen over night, these are all conscious actions to take to make for a better environment for raising our teens. I am thrilled that I now have these extra tools at my disposal!
I encourage you to read through the parenting playlist and come up with your own “mixed tape” of advice to help you guide your teen, and yourself, as a parent. And feel free to share with everyone using the hashtag: #ParentingPlaylist!
And just when I think I know him, he chooses a backpack that he designed. Not one of the expensive “cool” backpacks that we have, but this one. Just when we think we know our kids, they turn around and surprise us again!
Disclosure: Thanks to the Center for Parent and Teen Communication, part of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for helping to guide this sponsored conversation!