Avoiding Parenting Pitfalls
Parenting is a continual learning process. There is no right method as there are different styles of parenting. I have found from personal experience that there are things we get wrong.
In a world that is out of control and downright scary, parents need to guide their children.
These are some of the don’ts when raising a teenager:
Don’t be your teenager’s friend
One of the biggest mistakes we make is trying to be our teenager’s friends. While friends may come and go, parenting is a lifelong commitment. Teenagers need responsible parents that they can turn to in joy, fear, and times of grief.
Instead of trying to befriend them, allow your children to have friends their age; friends who share the same fears and ambitions. As a parent, you have superior experience and knowledge, so you are not their equal and can’t be a “friend.”
Don’t close the doors of communication
During this stage of your child’s life, it is vital to communicate with them. Forcing a conversation is not needed in a home where children feel comfortable talking about their activities or problems.
The next time your teen wanders into your room, close your laptop or book you are reading, or put your phone down and observe them. Let your child know they have your attention and wait for them to offload whatever is bothering them.
You don’t have to impart your wisdom, just showing empathy will go a long way in making your teen feel better.
Don’t make decisions for them
Adolescence is a scary time, and what your teen needs most is your love, strength, and understanding. While they struggle with the transition to adulthood, they need your support.
Unlike children who need you to lead and direct them, teenagers need to feel in control, so allow them to be involved in the decision making. We enable our kids by allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them. Parents often make the mistake of doing things for them.
We need to follow our teenager’s lead. Instead of giving them our ideas, acknowledge that they may do things differently. As parents, we need to respect their choices.
Don’t invade their personal space
Acknowledge their personal space. Your adolescent will tell you the important stuff if you build trust between you. Therefore, it is vital to create an environment of trust, so that they can share their secrets with you.
You don’t need to go through your child’s possessions or their phones to know everything – this does not prove you are a caring parent. Nor does it build a culture of trust.
If they catch you going through their things, it won’t be easy to regain their trust. Your home should be a safe place where your child feels secure.
Don’t speak for your child
We need to empower our children. Speaking on a child’s behalf undermines their confidence. We often answer questions for our children and don’t allow them to formulate their own answers. If you catch yourself doing this, then stop.
Unless your child is incapable of speech, let them express themselves. It will build confidence and character.
When your teen comes to you, be careful of how you communicate with them. These are teachable moments, and your not-yet-an-adult child will observe what you are doing when you say “I’m busy” and compare their importance to your “busy.” Let your teenager know that they are valuable and that they come first.