Hello Friends, you know the teenage years can be really difficult. I can still remember the angst I felt waiting to get my drivers license. (intense!) However not only is it tough on teens, it’s tough on parents too. There’s that awkward stage because
- teens aren’t really adults, but they think they are
- they’ve outgrown being kids, but at times they still act like them
- they want to be independent, but they want you to pay for everything
Many times I see parents placing unrealistic expectations on their teens. They have forgotten what it was like when they were a teenager – how their body was going through all these changes, and their hormones were raging causing them to experience feelings of intense euphoria and “Superman” drops into depression – all within a few minutes. Parents will often make the mistake of remembering the fleeting times when their teenager showed responsibility and maturity, and then use that behavior as the standard. But the teenager won’t always measure up to that benchmark because their maturity isn’t consistent yet. Teenagers have “transitory maturity.” It comes and goes. Like the tide at the beach. 🙂 What can be helpful is to sit and calmly discuss what your expectations are with your teenager. Understand that it’s unrealistic to expect constant perfection (because there is no such thing) – so don’t put that pressure on your kids. Believe me, even teenagers can get ulcers if put under too much pressure to perform. What you can expect from them is the following:
- Expect them to make mistakes. They will live up to this expectation, and some of them might be “over-achievers” on this one. However, make sure that your teenagers know that this does not entitle them to make mistakes on purpose. This is reserved for mistakes that they make out of ignorance, immaturity, or lack of experience. It does not cover goofing off.
- Expect that they will learn from their mistakes. Failure is not fatal. It’s the attitude that is. Learn the lesson and grow. If they have problems with this, then help them through it. Remember, CONNECT, CORRECT, REDIRECT.
- Expect that they won’t tell you everything. Did you tell your parents everything? They are stretching their “autonomy” muscles. This is developmentally appropriate. This means they will probably want more privacy. As long as they continue to show respect, maintain their grades, they abide by the house rules, and you don’t see any significant changes in appearance, friends, or food, then great.
- Expect to be treated with respect. Parents – this means that you will have respect shown to you as long as “junior” or “princess” is living under your roof. Why? Because you’re the parent. At this stage in life, they need to understand that “going out” is a privilege, not a right. It doesn’t matter how many other parents are letting their kids do this, or do that… if your teen does not follow through on their chores or breaks the house rules, or shows disrespect to you, then they need to understand that there are consequences to their behavior.
Please remember, this is all done in the context of a loving, caring, and deeply connected relationship. When teens know that Mom and Dad are for them and want their best, they often will hurry up and do their chores or whatever is required of them. However, if you show any sign of being flaky or being inconsistent, then the message that you’re giving them is that your word is no good. I’ve seen children with amazing levels of maturity that many adults do not possess. Age does not always bring with it maturity. Maturity (spiritual growth) is a choice. Jesus told us to never think less of those who were younger. (1 Timothy 4:12) It’s not a good feeling when others look down on you just because you are young. Those who do so merely show their own lack of character, insecurity and envy.
Treat your teenagers like adults, but don’t expect them to act that way. Try to understand them by listening to what they say, and even though teenagers think they know all the answers, be patient with them. They haven’t heard all the questions. God will bless the time and patience that you invest in them.
Dr. Christy 🙂