As parents, it is our job to raise confident, competent individuals who are capable of navigating the real world in a productive and successful way. Each stage of development requires different goals and tactics from parents. While there is no universal answer to the best way to achieve these goals, I have found the following strategies to be effective in my own personal life as well as my professional life.
Know Your Own Beliefs and Expectations:
Take the time to really think about all the things you believe in, value, and what you expect from your teen. If you don’t know yourself and what you wish for your teen, how can they know? Once you have a solid idea of your values and expectations, share them with your partner and ask they do the same. You will find much more success in parenting teens if both parents are on the same page.
Talk to Your Teen About His/Her Beliefs and Expectations:
Teenagers are caught in the epic struggle between childhood and adulthood. Involving them in creating goals, expectations, and consequences can help them feel in control of their own life. I have always found that I learn best from my own mistakes and take ownership in my own successes rather than learning by seeing others experiences.
Create a Tangible Plan Together:
Creating a family manual will help to put all of the rules and goals of the family into writing so as not to be misconstrued. Having a tangible plan to look back on can be a worthwhile reference. As your teen grows and matures you can revisit the manual together and make changes where appropriate.
Teens tend to think on a moment-by-moment basis and often have trouble seeing the big picture or imagining the possible future consequences of any action. If you are consistent with your expectations and in rewards/punishments you can help your teen reshape his/her thinking. Consistency is extremely important but there should always be a little room for flexibility as situations warrant it.
Be Open to Listening:
Give your teen permission to discuss anything with you without overreacting or shutting down their feelings. As a teenager my biggest fear as far as my parents were concerned was disappointing them. We had developed a close relationship where they trusted in me. I had earned that trust and appreciated it so I didn’t want to do anything to ruin that.
The teenage years are meant as a precursor to adulthood so parenting in partnership with your teen will help him/her gain confidence in his/her own abilities and develop the skills to be successful in the real adult world.