Some years, adolescents are simply not pleasant. Brace yourself. But, they will come around. It doesn’t mean that you let the behavior become acceptable. Just know it is normal.
Every Child is Unique
The oldest daughter about killed me the last two years of high school. The younger daughter about killed me in middle school. The youngest child has always been extremely sweet, but he pushed the limits a little more when he was younger. The third child – I am waiting.
Maybe I learned more about parenting by the time the boys came around or maybe the girls were just more difficult. Either way, here are a few tips I’d like to share.
Getting Along is Optional
You won’t always get along. That is okay. It broke my heart at first (and sometimes it still does), now I am learning that this is part of them finding their independence while still desperately needing me. Love them everyday – don’t hold a grudge and don’t change your rules because they don’t like them.
Guilt Doesn’t Work
Guilt does not work! You can’t guilt a child into being kind to you or feeling sorry for their awful actions that were hurtful. Guilt trips make them more persistent and more ornery. Calmly state how you feel, what you expect and follow it with “I love you”. They won’t know what to do.
Listen to Them
Listen to them! Always let them express themselves and teach them to do this respectfully and with compassion. This is something our world desperately needs, disagreement while still being respectful and compassionate. No one can control how they feel. We can only control what we do with our feelings. Teaching them to express how they feel and what they think – it is important. You don’t have to agree and it doesn’t mean they get their way.
My 22 year old daughter once told me that it was hard because she was an independent 22 year with her own thoughts and opinions. She told me I wasn’t listening to her, which really exasperated the situation. I thought I was listening. But, I needed to do something different to help her feel heard. But in the end, I still expected her to do what she was asked and I reminded her that I was paying for her college and living expenses, but would be happy to turn those expenses over to her if she wanted to be truly independent. I told her I loved her and I hugged her, even though I didn’t feel like doing anything but screaming at her. I went to my room and cried. She came around.
Know the Rules
Don’t change your rules because they don’t like them. Conversations are important. But, follow through and consistency are critical. If they respectfully and maturely ask you to reconsider the rules and give you a really well prepared reason, be open. But don’t change your rules because it is the easier thing to do. Only change them after much thought and only if the kiddo fully understands the rule and they are only asking respectfully for you to reconsider.
Run that Marathon
Parenting is a marathon. You may have a rough mile along the way, but don’t give up.