When the kids are little there is an avalanche of baby books telling you at what age you should do things or when your children should be reaching certain milestones.
Introducing solids – got it covered.
Crawling – should be happening.
Talking – under control.
Toilet training – we’ve got an age span where it should be happening.
But then your children grow up and the books on dealing with teenagers are a much smaller collection – and many tend to focus on the downside of living with teenagers – anorexia, behaviour issues, problems communicating – a quick survey of the book store is enough to fill the heart of a pre-teen parent with dread.
However, at the moment (touch wood) parenting a teenager is proving to be quite a lot of fun. It’s interesting to hear her views and watch her formulate her opinions. It’s fascinating to be getting a much clearer picture of the person she is growing up to be.
Where the struggle occurs is there is no clear set of guidelines for parenting teens. At what age do you leave them in the house alone while you go to work? At work age do you leave them in the house alone while you enjoy a night out? At what age do you let them stay home alone while you go away for the weekend?
Then, for those of you dealing with teenage love, there are issues like at what age do you let them stay overnight at their boyfriends/girlfriends house or go away together for the weekend (if ever)? What sort of curfew do you enforce?
You turn to the rules of the community and they are not that helpful – you can have sex at 16, but you can’t vote or drink until you are 18. You can start learning to drive at 16 and get your licence by 17. Good Lord she can be driving next year.
Right now with 16 fast approaching it seems way too young to be doing ANYTHING, but that could just be an over-protective parent speaking.
Parenting a teen seems like uncharted territory when you get there. You have to learn give and take. Let them have a little freedom while desperately trying to keep them safe. The world is a completely different place than when we were growing up – new pressures and problems – the internet creates a whole new set of issues for a start!
At the end of the day communication has become my number one strategy – if you can drag them out of their bedroom and have a conversation – letting them voice their opinion, even if you disagree with it – listening to what they say, recognising when you are wrong, adjusting rules to suit changing circumstances. Will that be enough? I’m hoping so.
Are you parenting a teen? What’s your coping strategy?