My daughter will celebrate her seventeenth birthday tomorrow and I don’t know how I have survived the last sixteen years. I am uncool, my clothes are all wrong and I am totally lacking in social skills. According to my teenager; my friends and I don’t have a clue on the latest trends, as we are considered to be fossils at the ripe old age of thirty nine. Even my choice of activities, seem to be outdated and “so last year.” My daughter points out the fact that Pamela Anderson is my age and she looks great. She wonders why I don’t have Pam’s body or dress in the same outfits that Ms. Anderson is often photographed wearing. My response to her,”I choose to look like a mom, not Britney Spears!” Honestly, I think deep down, my daughter appreciates the fact that I don’t look like one of her friends.
One thing that I have learned from this wonderful journey into teenageville, is that you must keep a sense of humor at all times. The ability to laugh at yourself and always remember what you put your own parents through at their age, is essential. Communication and an open mind are key elements in making it through this roller coaster period,in your child’s life. Don’t ever think, for one minute, that your child will not do or try something just because you have earnestly warned them about it. Where your words will always stay with them, they will be facing enormous peer pressure and influences that can sometimes out way your warnings. This is the time for open communication lines and non judgmental parenting. Be firm about your views and the rules of the home, but always show that you understand.
The hormones that flood a teenager can be almost impossible to deal with. The worst battles I have encountered with my daughter, usually involve a boyfriend. Teenagers feel as if they are indestructible. The future is no where in their sites and they live for the moment. This is where the teenager must learn the life lesson of consequences. As parents, we can love them through this phase and educate them on how to learn from their experiences.
Our teens have their friends. This group usually involves one or two that have hung out since grade school plus a snob, a socialite, the stoner, the class clown and the trouble maker. Embrace their friends and teach your child how to appreciate their differences. Get to know their parents and always communicate with one another. Teens do need their space to grow and discover, but this space should have limits and guidelines. Parents who keep in touch with one another, have a better grasp on the their child’s activities and lifestyles.
Teenagers are one of God’s little life tests! They can fill you with pride, joy, fear and anger…sometimes all in one day. Parents should always keep in mind that they are the adult. A parent is the guide and the enforcer of the rules. Be open with your teen, relate to their friends, but don’t cross the line…and become one of the gang. Parents that hang out and party with their teens diminish their authority. This sets a poor example and blurs the lines of respect between child and parent. It is crucial that parents conduct themselves as reputable role models.
Strap in, hold your breath and get ready for the ride of your life. Raising a teenager will help you to remember your own youth and allow you to use your personal experience as wisdom…the ultimate parenting tool.