Christmas – with all its stresses and joys – has come and gone yet again. If it feels like it passed quickly, take heart – so too will your years of parenting an adolescent. It’s an important transition time, one to enjoy and explore rather than merely to endure. That could be your first parenting resolution! Here are three more to consider:
Respect your kids. No matter how much you tell them to respect you, they’re not going to learn how unless you’re modeling it. Parents show respect when they make requests with “please” (and follow up with “thank you”), when they don’t interrupt,when they speak in calm voices, and when they make eye contact. Look back over that list – aren’t those all behaviors you want from your children?
Listen with empathy. When I tell my husband about my bad day, I want him to say, “Wow,” or “That sounds awful.” I do not want him to tell me that I shouldn’t be so upset, or that his day was worse. Nobody feels the need to be understood more than an emotional, moody teen. If parents won’t listen, there’s always somebody else who will.
Praise your kids more. And in public, even if it makes them squirm. But be low-key about it: “Hey, I noticed you picked up your dirty clothes” will be more appreciated than, “Wow, you picked up your clothes? Good for you! Thank you so much!” (And by all means, don’t sneak criticism into your praise, as in “Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”)
Enjoy, respect, listen, praise. And have a happy New Year!