Steve and I have been apart now for 11 days because of travel. Since he is in Germany, and I am alone with the four teenage girls in my home, I thought I might post on my latest “best practices” on raising teenagers. Possibly, you might share your “best practices” as well! With four teenage girls in the house right now, Steve and I have been taking a good look at our parenting decisions and our short fallings.
So here are my best practices. If I do these things, then it seems like we have a more successful home with a 17, 16, 15 and 13 year old.
1. Don’t overreact. As a parent it is easy to bring my own emotions into a situation with a teen. When dealing with teenagers, (especially girls), I have realized that I need to keep my own emotions separate from the girls. They have enough to deal with on their own.
2. Don’t take things personally. Teenagers are their own breed. Their decisions are very…self-focused, and they don’t always consider how a parent might feel. Apparently their brains are still developing, so don’t assume they think like you (unless your brain is still developing too), and don’t take things personally.
3. Listen. It’s easy to lecture a teen, trust me, I know. But often, listening is much more valuable then a good lecture. Sometimes those lectures are more about us then them. Steve and I are trying take the girls out each week separately on a date just to listen to their heart.
4. Set boundaries. I make the girls ask before they do something or go somewhere. And, if plans change, they have to ask again. We set time lines and limits on how long they can be gone. We look for balance as they schedule time for homework, friends, church and chores. We try to help them with their priorities and we “refocus” them if they seem to be out of balance.
5. Be affectionate. Teenagers, even though they may seem awkward with hugs and touch, still need to know you are the arms to run to. Keep hugging your kids.
6. Be encouraging. School and life and the enemy tell our youth horrible things. Be proud of every accomplishment they achieve. Today, my Isabel came in second place for a writing competition in her school and Julia completed another college application. I am so proud of them.
7. Get your own stuff together It’s easy to dump our stuff on our kids. I am grateful my mom had the ability to lay her stuff aside. As a young widow, she raised me, encouraged me and never reminded me of her singleness. She was bold and strong and I never felt like I had to carry her load. Teenagers have enough of their own load: there is no way they should be required to carry the load of a parent, so seek a counselor or get help if you need it.
8. Have lots of fun with your kids. Make your home more attractive then any other place on earth. Enjoy food, fellowship, laughter, movies, games, late nights, dance parties, fashion shows, skeet shooting, Dad dates, whatever it takes. Make your home a place of fun and happiness. Yes, this takes tremendous energy. You will notice other kids want to come to your house too when your house becomes a light.
9. Inspire your children. Do things that make them proud. Volunteer, seek ministry, show them you care about the word of God, and the world He created. Demonstrate an honorable life that will make them proud to be your kid.
10. Provide a safe place for them. Emotionally, spiritually, socially, provide a home where honest discussions can take place. Admit when you are wrong and be cautious to not judge unfairly. Emotions in teens are normal and they need to feel like you cherish their hearts.
These are my top 10 best practices. What are some of yours?
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