You’ve walked the floor with your babies, and handled the scary dreams. Now you are looking forward to a decent night’s sleep? That’s funny. If you have teens in the house, you hope they will stay there. If they aren’t in the house, you worry non-stop about them.
The teenagers are also delightful, wonderful human beings. They are opinionated, invincible, embracing, and with a love of life that we’ve long forgotten. They are also insecure, awkward, and trying to find their niche. They are adults with feelings.
I learned a lot while mine were teens and I’ve learned from other parents along the way. Teenage years are not easy for them or for you. They think they are twenty-two, you think they are still eight. They have more hormones circulating in their systems than they need. Keeping them active and busy with things they enjoy helps to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Here’s the trick to surviving teenage years. Do everything you can to raise them to be decent people before they hit the teenager stage. Let them know what you expect from them. Then be aware that after a certain point you can no longer control them. They will choose their own friends and do what they want to do. Always make sure they know that you love them and that you are there for them.
Put a big box of condoms in the closet, make sure the box is open and it’s not a perfectly filled box. No one wants to take the first couple of condoms out. Say nothing. Do not count them! They are probably supplying their friends, too. You want them healthy and not parents before they are ready. Remember you’ve already had that big discussion about the birds and the bees, abstinence, and important factors such as religion. They know where you stand and they know what is expected of them.
Let them know that under no circumstances do you want them drinking and driving or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking. They are allowed to call home for a free pickup, no questions asked, no lectures! Oh gawd, I’ve picked up my kids and their friends more times than I want to consider. But no one had a DUI or was ever in an accident as a result of drinking/drugs. Yes, I’ve had mine home and in bed, and gotten calls from their friends. “Will you come get me?” “Yes.” Yes, I wanted to shake them, scream at them, and lecture them until their ears burned! I didn’t; I picked them up. I’d rather do that then see them in the morgue.
Treat them as thinking adults and not as little children. Be honest and open with them and they will return it! Screaming does nothing! Lectures do nothing. Discussions do. No topic is off limits.
Your children will take their cues from you. If you smoke pot, they will, too! Don’t be shocked if they raid your stash! The same goes for cigarettes and alcohol.
Let them know if certain things will not be tolerated and the penalty for not obeying. You cannot ground them forever! Make sure the penalty fits the crime and you don’t lift the penalty. If you take the car away and then you can’t pick them up…
Life is not video games and TV. Have rules about when and how much. Stick to the rules. If you say no cell phones at the dining table, then keep the rule. If phones are to be placed on the kitchen counter at eight o’clock that’s were they go every night unless that teen is not home that night. When the teen returns, the phone needs to be there. (It’s a good time to charge the phone.)
If the bedroom is a mess, close the door. If they must share with another child, then consider the other child. Otherwise, establish a schedule for serious cleaning and maybe a weekly or every other week schedule. Once a month or once every three months for deep serious cleaning, mark the calendar so they can’t say they’ve forgotten. Dec 1, Mar 1, June 1, Sept 1 and display it on the bathroom mirror or someplace where they will see it. I found by doing it with seasonal clothing changes seems to help. Then you can help them with culling things from their closets such as outdated or outgrown clothes. Be prepared to ask them for glasses, spoons, etc. If you only have three glasses left in the kitchen you know someone is hording them in a room. Gross!
Today, drugs are a huge thing! I have no pearls of wisdom when it comes to drugs. If it’s a problem with your teen, seeking professional help is good idea.
BTW, in the USA, do not think you can march your child to the ER and have them drug tested! Under the new laws you are not entitled to the results of that testing! The children are protected from you under privacy laws. Oh, you will get the bill from the ER and the lab! Just not the results! You cannot send your 12 YO child with an older sibling to the doctor’s office for a simple strep throat test without you being present, but that same child can have a pregnancy test or an abortion without your permission. No, it’s not fair. But those are our rules. So talk to your children before these things could possibly become issues.
You can’t wait until they are thirteen to have these discussions. You must do it from the time they are old enough to understand as in first grade, over and over again. If you make something the forbidden fruit they will want to try it even more.
I raised one good kid and one hellion. If I drew a line, the hellion had to march down that line and poke her toes over it the entire time! Drove me crazy! But somehow we all survived. Fortunately, they turned out to be good people.
And never assume that your child wouldn’t do anything like that, whatever that is, because they know better! Hah!
I’m only a parent. Children don’t come into this world with a training manual developed just for them. Every child is different and the circumstances around each child are different. I do know that I’ve watched friends struggle with children who have gotten into drugs and landed in prison. I’ve been there as friends buried their children as a result DUI, speed, or drugs. And I’ve seen children do things that their parents never dreamed they would do, because they weren’t raised that way. There is no perfect parenting or parenting technique. We do the best that we can. If we need help, there’s plenty available.
If you are a father raising a daughter alone, talk to her. Yeah, I know it’s difficult. You don’t want to think that your little girl is going to have breasts nor do you want to think about the fact that she has a vagina. Suck it up and talk to her! Tell her everything you know. Get books on the subject. Read them together. Same goes for a woman raising a son. Don’t expect someone else will do it for you.
And never wait until they are teenagers to talk to them. But once they are teens, make certain they know they can talk to you about anything.