Parenting teenagers is no picnic and even the best parents make a mis-step from time to time. From managing constantly changing moods to teaching them to tame their tempestuous emotions, parenting teens can feel like a minefield. Take heart, every one of us accidentally sets off a mine or two as we navigate through these challenging years. To help you and your child get through the teen years as unscathed as possible, here are some of the most common mistakes we see parents of teenagers make so you can do your best to avoid them.
1. Failing to Trust Ourselves
When it comes to parenting, most of us use our parent’s example to guide what we do, or not do, with our own kids. But more so than in most other generations, today’s teens live in a completely different world than the one their parents grew up in. With no model to follow and no map of our own journey to use, we don’t trust our own instincts.
2. Focusing on Failure
There is no question that teenagers were put on this planet to test the resilience, patience, and sometimes sanity of their parents. But these years can be a wonderful growing experience for everyone in the family, if we let them be. However, too often we focus only on the failure, talk only about the things that are not working, and see only the things that our teens are screwing up. When this happens, our teens get the message that everything they do is wrong which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even on the worst day, there is always something good to see but if you don’t look for it, you are likely to miss it entirely.
3. Uttering the Words “Because I Said So”
Granted, there are times when there just isn’t any other explanation or when you are simply too tired of arguing to produce one. But more often than not, when we parents find ourselves saying these words it is because we are doing something or saying something without really thinking it through. These are the small moments that can undo our best intentions because they are the times that we do things without thinking, repeat unhealthy patterns, or measure against expectations that aren’t real. If you don’t have a reason you should focus on figuring out why rather than saying this so that you can win.
4. Being a Control Freak
It can seem like the best way to keep your teen safe from all the dangers of the world is to keep them close and completely under your control. Unfortunately, even if they agree to this or don’t actively fight against it, you are not doing them any favors. These are the years when your teenager needs to learn how to do the things they will need to do to be successful as an adult. This includes things like making good decisions, avoiding temptation, and being responsible. If you deprive them of the opportunities they need to develop these skills, they may make it to adulthood without drinking, having sex, smoking, doing drugs, or getting in trouble, but they won’t have the skills they need to do that once they leave your nest.