Parenting teenagers can be like navigating a minefield.
Parenting teenagers can be stressful.
The way we view parenting our children through their teenage years depends on several factors – our attitude, our behaviour, and how we have parented them in the years prior.
In this series of Enjoying the teenage years, I have raised the points that:
- Parenting teenagers is a lot about sacrificing.
- Parenting teenagers is a lot about perspective.
- Parenting teenagers is a lot about dealing with your stuff first.
Last blog post, I looked at being proactive and on the front foot in your parenting. Most of the enjoyment of parenting teenagers depends on you as the parent.
If your children are not yet teenagers, most of these tips can still apply to parenting your children.
Tip 2 – Model well.
Several years ago, I was not displaying honour, respect and love to my husband. Several things about him were frustrating me, and I allowed it to affect how I spoke and behaved towards him. Surprise! Surprise! Within months, it was apparent that our children were copying me. Their words and behaviour towards their father showed a lack of respect. It was my fault. They were doing what I had modelled.
Our children are fabulous incubators. They watch and listen and then often surprise us with an awkward moment, repeating our words and behaviour. This can work both ways. If we sow great thoughts, powerful speech, and loving behaviour, we can see amazing results in our children.
But we are all human and slip up.
But that slip up doesn’t have to define us. Apologise. Speak life and commit to trying to do better.
- Our words.
The words we say are powerful. Whenever we speak, we are releasing the potential for positive or negative effect into the atmosphere. Our words have the power to create, form and fashion something out of nothing and to change outcomes. In Genesis 1, God spoke and created the world. He has given us the same creative power to create outcomes, good or bad, by the words we speak. Are you speaking life or death?
What do you model by your words and actions? Are you positive and encouraging?
The words we say come true, and we set the tone in our home.
The Bible also says this about our use of words:
- Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
- Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
When was the last time you encouraged your teenager with words? As your teenager leaves for school, are your last words encouraging?
Self-talk also comes under this category. When we say negative things about ourselves eg “I’m an idiot, I shouldn’t have done that” it releases the potential for me to think like an idiot, see myself like an idiot and become an idiot.
How has self-talk affected your life? Your beliefs about yourself? Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and said you hated your body or didn’t like your hair? Has your child heard or seen that you are unhappy or insecure about your looks? If so, don’t be surprised if they repeat similar words.
How do you frame your words? What tone do you use? One of my children is quite sensitive and often picks up the tone behind the words. Our tone speaks volumes and affects our children significantly.
- Our mindset.
Our beliefs dictate our behaviour. If we are dreading the teenage years, it will be evident in our behaviour and speech. Are you looking forward to the teenage years? Do your teenagers know this, or do they hear you complaining? Please be positive and affirming.
If you struggled as a teenager, search for the reason. Don’t let your experience flavour your teenager’s experience. Don’t parent out of your hurts. If you are not looking forward to your children becoming teenagers, then please – take action. Get counselling. Spend time with God, asking Him if there are any lies you are believing. Have prayer ministry. Sort it out now so that you can look forward positively to this time.
- Our emotions.
Being an emotionally healthy parent has a significant impact on your teenager. Being able to name emotions, display emotions appropriately, and exhibit self-control all speak volumes to your teenager.
How have you modelled expressing your emotions, eg anger, frustration, joy, fear, doubt?
Do you slam doors? Don’t be surprised when your teenagers mimic you.
How do you model conflict resolution in your family? It’s likely your children will repeat your method. If you need assistance in this area, seek help.
- Our behaviour.
The same with our behaviour. How do you handle pre-menstrual tension? Your daughter observes you. We don’t do moodiness in our home. It is not allowed. If we feel tired or irritable, we excuse ourselves and go to our bedroom to sleep and recharge.
How do you empower your children by your lifestyle to find strategies and solutions to their problems?
A healthy approach to failure is vital. In our home, failure is not giving something a go the first time. We don’t equate failure in not succeeding. Normalise failure by appropriately sharing your challenges, obstacles, and feelings, and your choices and strategies.
Often the teenage years can be a challenging time with friendships. When you look at parents and older siblings, you can nearly always see where behaviour in friendships originates.
What are you modelling with your friendships? Are you loyal? Do you respond quickly to their contact? Do you speak about others behind their backs? Do you set healthy boundaries? How do you demonstrate you value your friends and support them? Can you say no?
Organisational skills and life skills – are you modelling and training your children to be self-supporting in their behaviour? Can they competently manage a household – cleaning, cooking, paying bills, minor repairs, etc? Time management. Resilience. Managing change. Serving others. Generosity. All vital skills.
- Our relationships
Expressing love for our teenager how they understand is crucial. The book “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman is essential reading. Determine your teenager’s primary method for receiving love.
You are the adult in the relationship, so be the parent. Take responsibility. Hold your tongue. Extend grace and forgiveness quickly.
As the parent, be consistent with your discipline and follow through on consequences. Teenagers can spot hypocrisy a mile away, so be consistent. Be the person to bring up issues and chat them through. Remember to focus on their character, not their performance. Protect your relationship with your teen by putting the relationship before rules.
Is the relationship you have with your family a priority, or are you busy with work, church, other relationships that affect your immediate family? What are you modelling? What do healthy boundaries look like for your family?
We are discipling our children with how we live our life.
Through our everyday life and what we model, what we say and do, or not, is picked up and integrated into our children’s lives. Whether or not we like it, everything we say and do is being examined by those closest to us and ‘believed’ to be the way to respond in similar situations in the future.
I encourage you today – what is your one takeaway from this? What are you modelling that perhaps you would like to adjust? How are you going to do that? Please feel free to comment below or email me as I would love to know.