There’s no doubt that parenting is a part of our lives filled with ups and downs. One day we may feel we’re doing great at parenting our kids. The next day we may feel we’re getting nothing wrong. What can you do to help be the best parent to your children?
We’ve got a list of the top five most common parenting pitfalls that parents often find themselves struggling with. It’s just a start, but it can help you begin reducing stress and improving the relationship between you and your teen.
1. Not respecting your teen’s privacy
You may wonder just how much privacy your teen truly needs. Does their increased desire for privacy mean they are hiding things from you? In truth, teens simply crave more privacy as they begin to seek out more independence on the path to adulthood. Your teen is not likely hiding anything from you. He simply wishes for his bedroom and his space and boundaries to be respected.
This could also come with a few additional household rules from you, including him doing his laundry and tidying his bedroom. Perhaps the door should also remain open if he has friends of the opposite sex in his bedroom. Until your teen gives you a reason to distrust him, don’t go rifling through his belongings, read his emails, snoop on his social media accounts, or go through his phone. He is entitled to a level of privacy, even living under your roof.
2. Pestering, badgering, and nagging
Teens can often seem like they deliberately ignore us when we tell them to do something, especially if it’s a task they don’t want to do. They may not be deliberately ignoring your directions but could just be forgetful.
With a packed schedule that includes a heavy workload from school, extracurricular activities, and personal life, your teen may be simply forgetting to fold his laundry, take out the trash, or do any of the other things he’s been asked to do. His mind is focused on things that he believes take priority.
If you keep on him to do these things, it can come across as pestering or nagging. This can also lead to arguments and tension in the home. So, what can you do? Work with your teen to create an easy-to-access calendar to remind him to keep up with things he’s struggling to balance. Several options, from a whiteboard to the smartphone, are likely always near him. This will reduce your need to nag him and improve the likelihood that he will follow through on tasks.
It’s also important to note that nagging can take the form of constantly badgering your teen to talk about things that he is reluctant to discuss. This can also relate to not respecting his boundaries and wanting privacy.
3. Coming across as being too controlling
This is related to not respecting your teen’s privacy and nagging him about things you feel he needs to be working on. As parents, we want to know what is happening in our teens’ lives. We want to know what they are doing, who they are doing it with, and how things are going at school, and we want them to tell us when they are struggling.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be an involved parent. The concern that arises is that teens are, by nature, going to want to pull away from their parents and become more independent.
What might controlling behavior look like from the perspective of your teen who is fighting to feel and be seen as independent?
- Being lectured about the importance of doing homework, getting good grades, keeping up with sports commitments, and keeping up with a part-time job schedule. Lectures seem like an essential part of encouraging your teen to keep up. But from his perspective, it may make you come across as trying to control him.
- Refusing to compromise or give him the space he needs to make his own decisions. Perhaps his curfew has always been 11 pm. If he has an event that ends an hour later, refusing to compromise and giving him that little bit of extra freedom can feel like he is being controlled. You have household rules for a reason. But compromising just a little bit
- Asking too many questions. You want to be involved in his life. You need to know if he’s taking part in activities that could be leading him off track and down a dark path. But for many teens, being bombarded with questions can feel like you’re trying to control them. Instead, try having open conversations with your teen. Keep things casual while letting him know you’re there for him if he wants to chat.
4. Not connecting with your teen at the right level
You may feel like you have a great connection with your teen. He seems well-adjusted you talk often. But are you really connecting with your teen? Quite often, teens are adept at hiding what they are struggling with. So, you may be having frequent chats with your teen, but you might not be hearing the full story from him.
You may also interpret your teen’s bad attitude and rude responses as him simply being an argumentative teen. When, in truth, your teen is struggling with finding a way to communicate how he feels as he works to connect with you.
5. Making assumptions and projecting onto your teen
Our experiences can shape us and our views about the world around us. As parents, we often can’t help but let our prior life experiences impact how we parent our children and teens. We may make assumptions about the friends our teens are spending time with, project our fears about the activities our teens are taking part in, and project and make assumptions about their romantic interests.
This can result in setting household rules that are too restrictive for a teen who doesn’t understand the motivation behind establishing these rules. It can be hard sometimes to view our teens as capable of making their own decisions and dealing with the consequences of those decisions.
Tips for connecting with your teen in a healthy way
Just what is the best way to connect and reconnect with your teen? It will largely depend on the kind of relationship you have with one another and the type of issues that your teen may currently be struggling with.
- Schedule one-on-one time with your teen. Even if that takes the form of brunch or dinner together. With busy schedules, it’s easy to find that we simply don’t spend as much time with our teens at a time in their lives when they may need to connect with us the most.
- Teens spend much of their time communicating via text. Open conversations with your teen using text or other chat apps. This can allow your teen to connect with you using a medium that he is most comfortable with.
- If your teen finds himself getting into trouble, be sure that you react with calmness and a willingness to listen. We often don’t listen to what our teens are actually saying. We project and make assumptions without them being able to communicate their struggles and thoughts thoroughly.
- Consider family therapy as an option. Therapy can be for so much more than dealing with mental health concerns. Therapy can help everyone to learn how to best communicate with other members of the family
If you’re interested in finding more resources for parents of teens who may be struggling, HelpYourTeenNow can connect you with the right resources.