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teens Ė turning from boss to consultant.
Sometimes itís hard to keep up with them - your children. It wasnít long ago when you could just tell them what to do and they listened. You were the boss. But now that your kids are teens, you just donít seem to hold the same authority and telling your teen what to do only seems to backfire.
Parenting the teen does take a different approach than parenting younger kids. Looking back it seemed relatively easy. They were born itty-bitty so you could take control Ė usually to keep them safe from harm, to teach right from wrong and begin to equip them with problem solving and relationship skills. But hey, remember when they were about two or three years old and they began to toddle off and test your limits? This was normal child development and you soon trusted that your child wouldnít touch the stove, muck about in the flowerpots or bite the cat.
is kind of similar in process to the two or three year old testing their
limits. In adolescence though the test is more towards social limits; who
they can go out with, when, where and for how long.
Unlike the young child though, adolescence is nerve-wracking
because now they are truly out of sight, the stakes are higher and your
didnít raise your kid for 13 years plus to see them get into trouble
now. Also unlike the young child, your teen is no longer itty-bitty and
you canít simply tell them what to do.
the adolescent requires extreme trust, patience and letting them take
responsibility for decisions even when the consequences are not favorable.
They do need to learn what the mantle of responsibility means during
adolescence so that as adults they are suitably equipped to then carry on
responsibly. No practice Ė no mastery. Taking responsibility takes
practice and opportunity.
difficult as it may seem, the parenting style has to shift from being the
boss to being a consultant. Now, no one is saying here that there arenít
any rules, but they are more flexible and more subject to negotiation.
When you were the boss, you simply told your young child what to do and
you expected them to abide by your wishes. Now as a consultant you are
more in an advisory position and must rely on the judgment of your teen to
teaching your child to ride a bike. Eventually you let go of the seat and
your child went sailing down to sidewalk only to eventually fall and at
some point scrape a knee or palm.
you begin to let go of your teenager, they too will eventually scrape
their knee and be hurt, but ultimately they will learn and grow to master
relationships and expectations in a responsible manner. Adolescence is a
testing ground to learn the rules of adulthood. Let them learn now for
all right to hold your breath though. It can be nerve-wracking.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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