This is part of my monthly series on Parenting Teenagers.
Over the last month I have tried really hard to think before I speak and act around the teenager. I will admit to not having a perfect hit rate at this, but in terms of things I mentioned in my last month’s post like being too verbose and invading his privacy, there has been decent improvement. On to this month’s learnings!
When my 14 year old was in three year old kindergarten, his Montesori teacher encouraged parents to “sit on their hands” when watching preschoolers complete tasks and try new things. I am really finding I need to do this metaphorically with him again.
He is quite independent and likes to do things for himself and sometimes I can cross the line from being helpful to preventing him from experiencing the consequences of his actions. By preventing him from making mistakes and making less than stellar decisions, I am preventing him from learning and growing.
I find it hard to sit back and let the flow on of his actions develop, when you know it will not lead to the result he wants. I am not talking about letting him make huge life threatening or altering mistakes, but much smaller things like being late, wasting money, burning his food he is cooking (because he wanders of to read a book and forgets about it!).
But there is a huge difference in how I am viewed in the situation by him depending on how I respond to what he is doing. If I give him unwarranted advice, he can at times find this annoying and he feels like I am “always telling me what to do”. If I wait for it all to take its course and he feels the full consequences of his actions, I am not part of the problem. It is his own behaviour he needs to reflect on.
After it happens, I don’t take the opportunity to do an “I told you so”. Sometimes I need to say nothing as he will have certainly learnt from the experience and won’t do it again. Other times there is a need to have a chat about what he could have done differently, if it was significant enough, with me remembering not to be too verbose and keeping the conversations short and address only the one issue with a view to looking forward.
I can see that he is getting to the age, where he is keeping more to himself. I need to find the balance between respecting his privacy and encouraging conversations with him on the bigger issues. I want him to know that he can talk to me about things like girls, puberty, politics of the school yard etc.
While we talk openly about lots of things as a family, some of these conversations with the teenager, need to be one on one. In a house with five kids sometimes that can be hard! I need to make sure there are moments across the week when we can have conversations on our own.
Moments in the car are great for this, as are when he is outside playing with the new pup and I am hanging out the washing. Casual settings without the feeling of the conversation being forced and I often need to start them off with a small prompt, being careful not to be seen as being too nosey. We have had a couple of good conversations this week, which is nice as it balances out the couple of intense discussions we have had this week too!
Would love to read what you have learnt about parenting over the last month, whether it be parenting teenagers, toddlers or somewhere in between!