1. Pick your battles. When it comes down to it, the most important things involve their safety and their faith. If your teen doesn’t want to wear a jacket when it’s 30 degrees out, she will either be cold, or it won’t bother her. Don’t let it bother you. She won’t die.
2. Connection is good. When your son or daughter is open to some real, talking, connecting time, take advantage of it. Drop what you’re doing if need be. He’s letting you into his world—go with it. These are windows, not doors, and they can shut quickly.
3. Styles change. What she was into last year will fade and her new hairstyle, or clothes or what ever will be “cool”. She may suggest a wardrobe update for you, too. Let her pick something out for you.
4. Have some fun. Fun with kids doesn’t end when they add “teen” to the end of their age. Try something new, go out on a limb if your teen wants to try something, like salsa dancing. You just may have some fun too!
5. Know when to disappear. Having your teen’s friends over at your house doesn’t mean they came to hang out with you. Provide food and adult input as needed, but otherwise, you should be part of the background—available but not in the way.
6. A messy room is… just a messy room. It doesn’t indicate anything other than your kid needs a little motivation. Money usually works.
7. Opportunities to drink, use drugs, and have sex are everywhere, every day. Don’t fool yourself because you have “a good kid”.
8. Encourage independence. If he doesn’t drive, introduce him to The Bus Pass. If he wants to get a job, don’t hover to make sure he gets everything “done right”. He will figure it out. The best learning experiences are the ones they discover for themselves.
9. Self-confidence is caught and taught. Encourage your kids when ever possible, and use criticism with care. Give the pep talks, the “good job”s, and honestly believe in them. This will make all the difference.
10. You’re just not as cool as you were when you were his age. Really. Teens like “cool parents” but the coolness factor goes with things like letting them stay over till late at night watching movies, always having extra food made for extra mouths, bonfires, and not frowning at midnight cookie baking marathons. Cool parents don’t act like they are 17 again. And see #5 too.
What have YOU learned from parenting teenagers?