Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Enjoy a Teenager

The questions I get asked the most often are about teenagers. All parents have been teenagers, but how quickly we forget what it was like. I decided to blog today with basic advice to the parents of teenagers. Here goes:

How to Enjoy a Teenager

1. Change Your Expectations--We often look at teenagers in their adult bodies and expect them to act like adults. We must remember they are still children. One minute they will show the maturity of an adult. The next minute they may flip back into child mode, acting irresponsibly.

2. Show Understanding and Patience--The teenage years are not only puzzling times for you, they are very confusing for your child. Puberty is unpredictable. The strange behavior you are observing has to do with their changing physical bodies and hormones. Their bodies are growing faster now than at any other time of their lives. They often become confused and forgetful.

3. Sleep is Important. Teenagers internal clocks are different. Let them sleep when they need to sleep. They have to get up for school, let them sleep in on weekends or after school.

4. Peers Are Important. Get to know your child’s friends. You are still the most important person in your child’s life, but growing up is much easier if your child has friends to commiserate with. Make sure your child’s friends are welcome in your home. You may not always like your child’s friends, but don’t criticize them to your child. When you belittle your child’s friends, your child will feel you are attacking them personally. For example: If one of your daughter’s friends smokes, tell your daughter you disapprove of the smoking. Do not say, “I don’t like your friend.”

5. Educate Yourself and Be Teachable. Every single child is unique and so the teenage years will be different for each child. No parent knows it all! Read books, take classes, meditate and pray. You will learn more from this teenager than he does from you.

6. Have Fun. Spend time together. Your child will do this with you if you are not nagging, criticizing or coming up with a list of things for them to do. If you are struggling with an activity you both can enjoy, try food. There is not a teenage boy I know who will turn down an offer for food. For girls try food or shopping.

7. Listen. There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. Instead of always trying to give advice to your teen, try listening to them. You will learn a lot about your teen if you can keep your mouth closed.

If you allow it, the teenage years can be the most rewarding years you spend with your child.