Parenting is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. I say that because you can’t let one of your less important tasks fall by the waste side with plans to pick it back up at a later date. When it comes to parenting, it’s all important, all the time.
I’m not suggesting that we be helicopter parents, but you have to stay on your job. It’s no different from any other job in terms of working hard to get the best result. The bonus is seeing our children thriving, healthy, successful and happy.
Parenting is truly a labor of love. When they’re babies they need a lot of attention and care, and in my experience it’s the same when they become tweens and teens. The focus changes from primary caretaker to overseer. They can do more for themselves but still need our guidance.
We’re raising young men and women and there are teachable moments everyday. You deal with issues related to dating, dress, driving, sports, values, faith and spirituality, social media, curfews, prioritizing, homework, friendship/peers, commitment, setting boundaries, work ethic and keeping up with the Jones family. One of my famous lines is, “I don’t care what Xs mother says or does, we set our own standards in this household.”
The hard part of the job is that there is no special formula for parenting. We draw from our own experiences and our vision for our children. Each child is different and may call for different approaches.
There are four key focus areas that I use on my parenting journey. There is so much more but these four stand out.
It’s so important to say what you mean and mean what you say. At this age, they’ve discovered the art of debate and feel the need to use that skill often (at least in my house). On the one hand its great that they’ve found their voice but some things are just not debatable. I’m learning not to get sucked in. I say what I have to say and then walk away. You’ve got to stay on point, otherwise they’ll break you down every time.
Our teens are exposed to so much with technology and information at their fingertips. We must maintain open communication with them. I do it all text, email, and phone calls but nothing beats face to face interaction. I also hold random family meetings in the evenings just to check in. There are days when we are busy going in ten different directions. On a day-to-day basis, I ask about school, friends, sports and anything else that is going on in their world.
Teens need to know their parents care. Everyone has a need to feel loved. We show our love and care by providing for their basic needs, being there for their events, setting expectations, listening and guiding them when they need to talk. I try to spend one on one time with each of my teens.
Some teens are more mature than others but it’s important that they understand there are boundaries. For example, my 17 year-old daughter has her own vehicle and is quite mature. She checks in with me so that I know where she is. She understands there is a curfew and the car will be parked indefinitely if she is not responsible. The teens in my house know that there are consequences to negative behavior whatever it is which generally results in privileges and electronics being taken away. We rarely have problems in this area and I’m grateful.
There is no magical parenting book.
Your way may be different from my way.
One thing is for certain, there is no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent. As a parent though, I do my best to model the behavior that I expect from them.
It’s a journey and my prayer is that our guidance will help them be their best selves and live out their dreams.
Peace and Blessings,