If there is one thing that any parent dreads, it’s the teenage years. It’s not because they believe that their kids will be nightmares, rebellious or strong-willed, it’s that the opinions of other people continuously warn them it’s going to be bad. Yes, there are preconceived notions about what it’s like to raise a teenager, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a bad time of things for definite. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t make life easy for your teenagers.
Remember when you were going through puberty? The questions that you had about yourself, the world, your friends – they’re all still relevant to your current teenager. Your feelings of angst, worry, and confusion were all vital to you, which means that they’re going through the same thing as you did, and their feelings are important, too. As parents, all we want is to be the best that we can be for our children. We stand as parents of toddlers and talk about what we will and won’t accept from teenagers, knowing that when we are parents of teenagers, it’ll all change. Teenagers are miniature adults, immature children in growing bodies. That’s a lot of change for one child, and it’s up to you to make sure that you can make their life as easy as possible.
Whether you agree or disagree with someone else’s methods for discipline and keeping your teenager in line, the ultimate goal is to protect your child. Yes, they may be transcending towards adulthood, but that doesn’t mean they know about the world full of risks that they’re about to dip a toe into. All we can do is make the transition to adulthood smooth, comfortable, and full of support and love. So, with all of this in mind, let’s talk about how you can best protect your teenager.
Agree To The W’s
There will be things that your teenager doesn’t want to tell you, and while that’s okay to an extent, you both need to sit down and talk through the W’s. It creates mutual respect and trust, and without either of those things, it’s all going to fall apart. You need to agree on:
- Knowing Where they’re going
- Knowing Who they’re with
- Knowing When they’re coming home
- Knowing What they’ll be doing when they’re gone
You’re not saying that your teen cannot go out, but there must be rules. When they’re open about where they are going, you can always say yes to their going out. You’ll know they’re safe; they know that they’ve been truthful, and you respect their time out, and everyone is happy and secure. It also means that should they need you, they can call without judgment and know that you’ll be there for them, too.
Get Involved In Their School
Teenagers often won’t talk about the trouble that happens at school. Instead, you’ll find out with surly and fractious behavior, starting fights with you and generally being angry and lashing out. Instead of panicking that your child is being teased or bullied, get involved in their school, and observe their peers. They’ll be able to feel secure that you are there in the background and paying attention to things that could be going on. You don’t need to put your nose in their business, but you can quietly be there for them and keep an eye on what’s going on.
Be There Every Time
A basketball game, a cheer tryout, a dance recital – all of these extracurricular options are going to be exciting for your children, and you need to attend these events. They’re necessary to their security in knowing you are there for them. Show up and cheer them on every single time, and they’ll come to rely on the fact that you’ll be there, too. They won’t need to search the bleachers for you because they know you’ll be sitting and cheering – and that’s important to your teenager.
Don’t Make Sex Taboo
We no longer live in the Fifties and Sixties, which means that sex isn’t a taboo topic. Openness is essential; sex is not a dirty word. Whether you have boys or girls, you need to talk about sex. Teenagers often feel like they’re grown up enough for sex to happen, but if they’re not of legal age, there are murky waters. They should not be having sex if they cannot yet be mature enough to deal with the feelings that come with it, which is why sex should be an open conversation from as early as possible. Talk about protection and all the options, talk about abortion and adoption, teenage pregnancy, and the impact sex can have beyond pregnancy: STD’s, hurt feelings, lust, and love. It’s all-important, and preparing your teenager is vital for their teenage years to develop securely and happily.
Monitor Social Media
You are likely to have shared iPads and family media, which is why guides like https://setapp.com/how-to/apple-family-sharing-guide are going to be invaluable to you. Social media is the cause of a lot of mental health issues in teenagers today, and it’s because of the pressure that is created from the online world. Know their passwords, keep tabs on who they are messaging, and impose limits on the time that they spend online. It’s so important to know what’s going on with your teenager online; the internet is a scary and terrible place for many people, which is why monitoring is a must.
Drugs and alcohol, bad friendships, and discovering love – it’s all part and parcel of what a teenager will face at some point or another. You need to do more than tell them just to say no. You need to explain the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the lethal combination that it creates when put together, and you need to talk about what they may come up against in their friendship groups. Letting them know that you will be there for them in those moments is so important, so open the conversation and let them talk to you, ask questions, and discover more. Life is a parcel for a teenager to unpack in the right space to do it. Create that space for them; you won’t regret being there.
Talk About Safety
While you want to teach your teenage girls about being safe with boys, talk to your boys about respecting women. Talk about manipulative behavior that is unacceptable. Talk about condoms and the importance of backing off unless a girl says “yes.” It’s all well and good to equip teenage girls with rape whistles and pepper spray, but we must impress upon our boys about the consequences of pressure and not waiting for consent. If we do better with our sons, our daughters remain safe.
Your teenager may want to go out every weekend with their friends, and that’s lovely, but impose one night a week, which relies on you all being together. It’s the one stipulation of freedom for a teenager: they must spend time with you, too. Have dinner together at least once a week without technology and talk – it will make a big difference!
You’re busy, but teenagers will need you, and you need to hear them properly when they are venting. Ask them if they want advice or a listening ear, and be that person for them. You’ll see how easy life can be when you’re genuinely paying attention to your teenager. It’s going to change the game for all of you.