Parenting a teen is no small feat.
Organizations should definitely offer some sort of award or medal system for your hard work.
They feel like an adult – but they aren’t quite there yet.
Unfortunately, this means lots of head butting between parents and teens.
Adolescence is a time for growing and making mistakes. Different parenting styles can make the difference between learning from these mistakes or harboring guilt for years.
Here are some teenage parenting tips for keeping your family safe while staying supportive.
How Parenting Styles Influence Teenage Behavior
Parenting styles have a huge impact on teenage behavior both now and years down the road. Unfortunately, this means you’ll need to become a really great communicator.
According to Michigan State University, these are the three main parenting styles:
- Permissive: You rarely set rules and consequences. You consider all opinions equal and allow for a lot of negotiation with no real sense of leadership.
- Authoritarian: You set rigid rules and don’t allow your teen to negotiate – ever. Your teen’s opinion is irrelevant and your leadership is paramount.
- Structured: You strictly enforce a few – but important – rules. You allow for some negotiation based on the circumstances and respect your teen’s opinion.
As you can see, a structured parenting style is ideal because it allows your teen to learn valuable negotiation skills instead of persistently complaining until they get what they want or forcing them to conform without question.
It also lets them feel like their opinion matters without implying that only their opinion matters: there’s a good balance between expressing individuality and conforming to rules.
Many parents may bounce back and forth between permissive and authoritarian and believe this style is structured parenting – you need to remain consistent.
How Parents Can Handle That Adolescence Snark and Sarcasm
It’s something all parents have to contend with: adolescent snark.
Sometimes, you just want to ring their neck. Teens can say some really mean things, too.
No matter how hard you try: you cannot change their behavior. While parenting a teen, you can only change how you respond.
Here are some communication techniques for handling that notorious sarcasm that comes part and parcel with adolescence:
- Stay calm. Walk away if you absolutely have to – just like you would with anyone else. Refuse to engage in a conversation until they agree to treat you with respect.
- Empathize with them. It’s okay to be upset or angry.
- Ask questions instead of talking “at” them. Let them understand that you care about their opinion.
- Set boundaries and stick to consequences. You want to prepare them for the real world: excuses or whining don’t work in a court room or job interview.
Teenage Parenting Tips for Standing Your Ground While Remaining Supportive
Unless you take a long hard look at your communication skills, you might not even realize your parenting could use a little work.
This doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Communication skills take hard work and discipline – especially when you’re dealing with an emotional teenager you need to keep safe.
Adults usually avoid folks who are disrespectful, argumentative, and don’t listen. As a result, you may not have much communication experience with this until you find a teenager under your roof. Unless you’re specially trained in dealing with difficult people, you’re going to make some mistakes.
But that’s okay – it’s why you’re here, right?
These teenage parenting tips can help you build healthy communication with your kids (and any difficult adults in your life, too).
- Explain yourself and your reasoning. They’re more likely to abide by your rules if they understand why you made them in the first place.
- Be a good listener. Ask lots of questions when they’re upset. Show that you care about their feelings and aren’t a robot.
- Be reasonable and somewhat flexible. Did they miss curfew because the Uber didn’t show up? Give leeway when it’s reasonable.
- Choose your battles. Don’t let yourself stoop to their level in an argument and don’t fight over petty things. Walk away.
- Set a good example. Does your teen see you come home and have a glass of wine (or three) to cope after a stressful day? Do you ignore other people’s boundaries? Look at your behavior objectively. What are your actions teaching your kids?
- Focus on merit instead of formalities. Getting straight A’s doesn’t necessarily mean your teen is respectful, empathetic, or caring.
Parenting a teen is one of the hardest relationships you’ll ever have. At the end of the day, you want to raise a person who genuinely cares about the feelings of others and treats all people with respect.
By developing good verbal and physical communication skills and keeping these parenting tips in mind, you can give it your best shot. (That doesn’t mean it will be easy.)