Tween and Teenagers
Raising a Teen Today: Parenting First...Friendship Second
As the days pass, I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle of teen and young adulthood with my children. Being the parent of older children, I feel that sometimes I live in a different world. You know the world where nothing makes sense including clothing, music, food choices, friends, bedtime or the lack of bedtime. Having no idea what goes on in a teenagers mind sometimes leaves me standing on the sidelines scratching my head and literally praying out loud “Lord, be with them” and trusting that they have some retained what their dad and I have taught them. I have learned to give them freedom but still insist on being involved in their lives. Finding the balance can be tricky.
The world we live in now is so very different from the world in which I grew up in. Sometimes it makes me sad to think that in just a few short years, (at least it feels short to me) life for our kids will be completely different. When I say things like “I remember life without cell phones”, I am usually met with “oh mom, that must have been horrible”. Life was a bit calmer and A LOT quieter. Having something to do in our spare time meant that we would go outside, ride our bikes, hang out with friends, go to the roller rink or just stay home with our families. Today, life is so much more complicated and full of many more distractions; and if we (parents) do not pay close attention, those distractions could become harmful.
Friendships during teen years are extremely important (and influential) and it is important that parents take the time to know who your kids’ friends are. As difficult as it is to convince our children that we need to know what’s going on in their lives, communication is a MUST in order to ensure safety. Physical safety is important but emotional safety is equally as important. When teens begin to show interest in dating, parties and “expressing themselves” it is time to become even more of a “pain in the neck” parent. Quite often, teens will fall for peer pressure and not realize they are doing so and no matter how loud they yell that it’s their life and insist that you butt out …don’t.
Trust is a key component between parent and child, and this trust must be accompanied by responsible open communication that harbors no secrets or lies. Checking emails, voicemails, text messages and social media accounts is a must in our world today. If they resist, they are more than likely trying to hide something. Stand up, take charge and know what’s going on in your child’s life. It is at this point in our children’s lives that we do not need to be their friend, we must be the parent. The friendship will come later once they are grown and out on their own. You can and never will be able to be your child’s parent and friend at the same time.
Being observant of our children’s behaviors and any variances will often provide a parent with clues that something is out of the ordinary for that child. Act on gut feeling. It could be the difference between tragedy and triumph. Remember parent now; friend later.
Lifetime Television’s upcoming drama, “A Mother’s Nightmare” starring Jessica Lowndes (90210) Grant Gustin (Glee) and Annabeth Gish (Pretty Little Liars) tells the tale of a young brokenhearted boy who finds love in the arms of a manipulative, unstable new girlfriend and the struggles his mother faces in trying to protect her son from her.