Moms (and dads!) of tweens, save this post for future reference. We are ALL going to need a little help surviving the teenage years! Better yet, we hope these tips help you do more than just survive them–ENJOY them! Special thanks to our friend Lisa from Mercy Pediatric Clinic for sharing her wisdom today…
1. Listen, and do everything you can to refrain from offering advice.
Teenagers are “talked at” all day at school. They are expected to listen quietly for 7 hours/day. I’m not sure about you all, but for me, that’s HARD! When they come home from school and they start sharing stories, STOP (what you are doing), DROP (your phone) and ROLL with it! Listen. Listen without interrupting. Listen without judgement. Listen without advice. Just listen. I mess this up all the time! I think I even messed this up yesterday! But, every day, I try to do better than I did yesterday.
2. Do not be afraid to say “no”.
Remember, you are the parent. It’s ok to say “no.” Don’t feel guilty for saying it. It’s ok. They will survive. It’s ok to be disappointed. Learning how to deal with disappointment is part of life.
3. Say “yes” to the crazy requests as often as possible.
My husband is MUCH better at this than I am! After all, he’s the one who said yes to the GIGANTIC bear from Costco one day while I was working. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, he said “yes” to taking the bear on vacation with us to Colorado!
All fun things happen while Mom is working. I’ll never forget the day (maybe 10 years ago) he sent me a video titled, “In case you wonder what we do while you work.” It was a video of the kids in cardboard boxes sledding down the stairs in their footy pajamas laughing hysterically! They may have had cheese dip from a can , little smokies and peanut M & Ms for lunch while watching every Harry Potter Movie that day too. He’s the one who says “yes” now to donut runs at midnight and he’s the one who said “yes” to kicking the soccer ball a million times in the backyard. I’m a work in progress, but I did say “yes” to what seemed like a ridiculous, “not a care in the world” request from one of our teenagers not too long ago. And, I’m so thankful I did! Our teenager asked if the two of us could go on a vacation together, just us. She started telling me her ideas, maybe somewhere north, we could take photos together…… I messed up rule #1 by not hearing her out before I told her all the reasons that was crazy! You know all the practical reasons why one of two working parents with three kids and a dog can’t just drop everything and take a vacation with one kid! I even called my best friend and told her about the ridiculous request. You know what she had the nerve to say?! She said, “Lisa, you have to do it. Clear your schedule, cancel everything and go.” So, I did. And, we had the most amazing time! Like one of my most favorite trips EVER! Time spent together with our precious daughter who was just yesterday asking me to put her shoes on so she could go play outside. Yep, it’s that fast. Say “yes” to TIME every TIME it’s humanly possible.
4. Say sorry when you mess up.
Tell them why you are sorry. Say it like you mean it. Remember, our job is to teach them how to interact with other humans when they leave our home. Respect their thoughts and opinions. Show them it’s ok to make mistakes.
5. Don’t lose your sense of humor!
Teenagers are so much fun! They are full of enthusiasm and wonder! They are adventurous and gaining independence yet still seek stability and guidelines. They will challenge you and grow you if you let them!
Lisa Moenning is a Physician Assistant at Mercy Pediatric Clinic and The Emergency Care Unit at Mercy Hospital. She lives locally with her husband and three teenagers.