Monday, April 25, 2011

Parenting Teens. Don’t Stay Inside the Lines

An authoritative parenting style is one in which you  frequently get your teen’s input, state your position clearly, and consistently set and adhere to rules.  It tends to have good outcomes for kids.  Compassionate communication involves observation of the other’s behavior and feelings, expression of feelings, identification of needs, and requests.  It is without judgment, demands or criticism.  If I take authoritative parenting and combine it with a little compassionate communication, here are a few conclusions I draw.
Listening.  I’ve previously suggested that we talk to our kids about everything, and listen to them about everything.  This listening part is one that often gets lost in translation.  That does not mean asking them questions and waiting until they respond before telling them what you think.  It means, asking questions and listening to responses, pondering where they’re coming from and trying to see how what-I-think and what-they-think can co-exist in the same house.  Talking and listening compassionately generates respect. 
Rules.  How about agreeing on the rules?  Each party may haves to compromise on the rules.  The parent has to focus on the big items (e.g., curfew, illegal behavior, grades) and let go of the little things (e.g., clothing, hair, tv shows).  The parent is responsible for enforcing the rules consistently and calmly.  The beauty of consequences is that you don’t have to get angry.  You just give the consequence.  Sometimes you can even be understanding and not enforce a rule but just discuss and forgive the transgression.
Media.  I hesitated before including tv as a small item.  And I almost included music.  Why?  You can’t keep you teen from watching banned media.  They have friends with tv don’t they?  Friends with iPods?  The best suggestion I can make here goes back to talking to your teen.   Find out why they’re attracted to content you find objectionable.   Talk about how you see it.  If you’ve established respect, your teen may actually take you opinion under consideration.
Micromanaging.   Trying to control everything is not necessary and it’s downright annoying, as we all know from personal experience with those trying to micromanage us.  It suggests to the teen that you don’t believe they’re capable of figuring out how to get their homework done, managing to keep the gas tank filled or selecting good friends.  If you have an opinion about one of these areas, or others, ask if your opinion would be of interest.  Then give it carefully.
Role Models.  Be a good role model and expose your teen to other good role models.  You can’t make another human being believe or feel something.  You probably can’t even make your teen do something they don’t want to do.  You can only provide a foundation from which, hopefully, they’ll make good choices.  But not always.  Mistakes, of course, provide the best learning.

They love to tell you stay inside the lines
But something’s better on the other side
No Such Thing, John Mayer


Lanita Warner said...

I find these really helpful. I think it does help when you just don't listen but listening with understanding is more appropriate. It's easy to be giving your thoughts about any issues but allow yourself to be on your teen's shoes, ask yourself if the things you say are the things that they would want to hear or absorb. Do not assume that they would want advice immediately or scold them after. If there are issues that you would want them to learn and avoid, it's best to give solid examples so that they'll know you're not just making things up and that it's the consequences of their actions that they should be considering. Here's another parenting info for parents with struggling teens.

Judy'sAlterEgo said...

Thanks for your comments!

JoeyWalden87 said...

Really interesting article! We just had our first daughter this is years away from us but this information is always to know. I love how it mostly is about just talking with your teen and really understanding their mentality.