Where do I start? Raising a teenager in this day and time is not easy whatsoever. In fact, raising a teenager, period, is not easy, but especially now, it’s so much harder. The same can be said for being a teenager—it is hard for them as well. They are in that awkward period of their lives where they’re technically still a child but now older with more responsibilities and slightly a little more freedom. They’re at a crossroads between doing what they know is right and wanting to fit in with “cool” kids. They’re trying to figure out who they are but at the same time they are “know it alls” and refuse to listen to anyone over the age of 25.
I believe the hardest years for parents and child are the teenage years. It’s one of those iron sharpens iron situations. It’s a constant battle that both parent and child have to work on.
I remember growing up and the pressure from social media or reality TV was not present. Back in those days, you worried about your parents letting your friend stay over, trying to record songs from the radio onto your cassette tape, and what was going on at school. These days, kids are worried about the latest technology, the G-Wagon they saw a celebrity’s child driving on their Instagram feed, and so much more.As a parent today, we have to often bring our children back down to reality. We have to constantly remind our children that things in life aren’t just given to you that you have to work for them. If you want to teach your child about money, give them a few dollars and when they want something tell them they have to buy it with their own money. They will see very quickly how fast money goes and the value of a dollar.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great daughter. She’s a straight-A student and has a very good attitude towards school. Her teachers often give her great comments and accolades. But with every teenager, our struggle is often her attitude at home. Every child gets to a point to where they start smelling themselves, they go through puberty, become taller than you, and soon they believe they can start talking back. I often have to tell my daughter that it’s not what you say, but it is how you say it.
There are times when I know I’m getting on my daughters nerves and honestly I do not care. It is important that you demand respect from your children. Again, I have to remind my daughter on occasions that I’m not one of her little friends. I can remember being a teenager myself and my mother and I would often clash and argue.
There’s this one specific moment that comes to mind when I boldly told my mother that I could beat her in a fight. Boy, what was I thinking? Haha.
Now when I made this statement, I’m going to say that I was around 14 or 15 years old, and or course I was just playing. My best friend was over, because whenever school was out she would basically live at our house, and all I was trying to do was be misses jokester. However, my mother did not see anything funny about my statement. She was literally ready to go, blow for blow; to first put me in my place and to secondly make it known that she was still in charge and still my mother no matter how old I was.
Imagine her letting me slide with that? After a few more times of trying to be “funny” I would have most likely started believing myself and who knows what would have stemmed from that.
There were times when I didn’t understand as a child why my parents were making the decision they were for me. I couldn’t understand it and I couldn’t wrap my teenage brain around it. I often thought my parents were too strict. Especially my mother. But today, I totally get it and I am thankful they made the decisions they made for me.
The same is happening now with my daughter. Not always, but it happens. I’ve asked my parents how they got through it; raising two teenage daughters at the same time? Now, they just laugh at me because they know what I’m going through. But as time goes on, I hear myself saying some of the same things to my daughter that my mother use to say to me.
As a parent it is important for us to remain in our parent role during these teenage years. It is easy to start to drift into the friendship realm during this age but let me suggest to you that you pull back those reins. Flirting with being friends too soon with your child can be dangerous. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have fun with your children but they have to know the boundaries.
Personally, I love spending time with my daughter. We watch a lot of TV together and we both love going to Target, strolling the isles and just getting some one-on-one time together. But even during those moment I have to remind her to “calm her jets” periodically. Because like toddlers, your teenager will test you and if you allow them to get away with an inch, best believe they will try to take a mile.
Toja’s 5 Tips to parenting Teenagers:
- Keep the door of communication open: We (parents) are all our children have. We need to let them know and assure them that they can come to us about anything. Even if it’s something we don’t agree with or condone, they should know that they can talk to us about it. It is better for your child to talk to you about sex, drugs, money, etc. then to talk to someone else. You don’t know what the next person will tell your child. Encourage your child to talk to you, even if that means you have to initiate the conversation. Make them feel comfortable. Regardless of what the issue may be, ensure your child that you love them.
- Start letting go little by little: As teenagers get older, they’ll want to have more and more freedom. Slowly but surely they are growing into small or young adults. This means less time away from home and parents and more time on their own with friends. This can be great for a child in moderation. It is important that we give our children the tools they’ll need to succeed outside of the home. Letting go in moderation allows the child to grow their independence as well as taking on some responsibility and accountability.
- Remain the parent: No matter what, remain the parent. Be sure to inforce all rules and make sure that your child understands that “No” means No!
- Be patient: There is no manual when it comes to being a parent. There’s a lot of trial and error. The key is, finding what works best for your specific child. At the end of the day, just be patient.
- Love unconditionally: No explanation needed!
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)
Do you remember what it was like being a teenager? Are you raising teenagers today? What challenges do you all have and how are you working through those?