In December of 2019, I entered into new territory. As I began to travel this new territory also known as parenting a teen, better known as putting together an 1000-piece abstract puzzle, I had to realize a few things. I had to bring back to my remembrance my own experience during my teenage years. I know my parents did their best raising a strong willed and sometimes lazy (maybe more than less) teenaged me. However, I felt I was not able to always openly express myself to my parents. I don’t want this for my children, especially for my teen in this new age of technology with a whole new plethora of issues to worry about ie. social media, cyber bullying, human trafficking, just to name a few! I want my teen to always know she can come to me about anything!
To make my daughter a believer of my words I had to tweak my parenting skills. I don’t want to come across as all talk. I want her to know that as her mother I am here to not only ensure she has the necessities, but I’m in her corner 1000%! I have listed a few ways below that encourage the trustworthy relationship I want to maintain with my teenager.
- Always keep the lines of communication open and honest – Drill it in your teen that you are their number one advocate! Explain to your teen what that means in language they understand. I always tell my daughter I have her back, front, and sides– no matter what! I constantly talk to my daughter to keep the lines of communication flowing. I ask, “How she is doing?”, “How is she feeling?”, “Has she talked to any of her friends?”, “Is anything bothering her? “ And usually I’m the one bothering her, lol but asking these questions repeatedly on rotation remind her I am here for her for whatever she needs.
- Positive reinforcement/encouragement – Push your teen to reach for the stars. Anything my daughter tells me what she wants to achieve I am on board for. Even if I don’t necessarily have the money to fund whatever it is she wants to do I let her know if that’s what she wants, we will come up with a plan to pay for it. This will reinforce in your teen’s mind that you really do care and want them to be happy. Also, I don’t let my daughter speak negative about herself around me or say she can’t do something. I constantly remind her, “Just because you don’t know how to do something right at this instance does not mean you can’t do it. You just need some practice and time.” From that point on I become her accountability partner to keep her on track to reaching her goal or learning her new skill.
- Give your teen the tools he or she needs to be successful – Is your child suffering emotionally from divorce, death of a family member, or struggling in a subject? Does your teen’s virtual learning environment support the best learning experience from home? Setting your teen up with the proper tools such as therapy to cope with life changing experiences and trauma or ensuring your child has a conducive learning environment from home during this pandemic can make a world of difference for your teen. Ensuring your teen has tools in place to be successful during these years can have a positive lifelong impact. Let’s be honest we all know people in our adult lives who are suffering from trauma that happened in their adolescent years. Some of these people would not be stuck in life had they had tools in place to encourage success.
Now even with these tips don’t think you won’t get the typical teenage hormones and attitude because you will! My only hope is to have a mother daughter relationship built on a solid foundation of love and trust that continues on to adulthood. Following these three steps have definitely helped my daughter to know I am her number one rider! I hope that these steps will help all my fellow mamas of teens as well!