A few months ago I wrote a series of articles on parenting for our church’s bulletin. It was well received and I thought that perhaps some of my other readers my enjoy them, too. So, for the next few entries I’ll be talking about the incredibly difficult job of parenting teens. I hope you find them at least thought provoking; and even if you don’t have children, you might want to pass the article along to someone who does. They might be able to use it.
As the parent of every teen will attest to, raising teens is challenging. And what’s worse is that there is no one-size-fits-all advice to guaranteed success, because although teens do share some things in common, they are also as individually different as fingerprints. But that being said, there are some general principles that parents can put into practice that will help in the last few, sometimes difficult years of parenthood.
I’ll start off with one of the biggest complaints that parents voice about their teenage children, “attitude”. Although some attitudes come from hormones and other physical issues, the truth in a nutshell is that almost every “attitude” you see in your teen is being demonstrated at home by someone. For example, angry teens often come from angry homes; conversely, self-controlled teens generally see and are expected to show proper restraint at home. We all first and best learn how to cope with problems, emotions, and hormones at home. Mouthiness, negativity, freshness, arrogance, and moodiness are often (not always, but often) teenage exaggerations of parental examples and permissiveness.
Would you like a little less attitude from your teen? Your teen may need to see less attitude from you; more discussion, more modeling of how to appropriately cope with the difficulties of life— including someone else with a poor attitude. Bottom line: conduct yourself at home as well as you want your teen to behave in private and in public.