1. Accept that you are no longer the center of their universe
When kids are young, you are the source of all their necessities in life, and their main source of attention. As they get closer to their teenage years, that will reverse. They will have friends who pay attention to them, other avenues of communication, even independent financial resources (if they have a part-time job). Despite these changes, you can still be a voice they listen to, not because they have to but because they want to. Spend quality time together doing something that they enjoy. This will allow you an opportunity to better understand them. In turn, this will give them a chance to also learn about you. Opportunities to speak and share with your children are priceless.
2. Test yourself – and them
How do you know if you’ve raised your children properly? How can you test a teenager’s moral compass? Dole out extra responsibilities in small chunks and see how they handle it. Allowing a teenager to demonstrate the skills and ethics that have been instilled in them will help you gauge the trajectory of your future parenting. Even if it’s something as small as allowing them to stay out an extra hour this one time – what will they do with that hour? The key though is not to test them beyond their abilities. Start it young, young enough so that if mistakes are made the consequences are appropriate but there’s no risk of affecting the rest of their life. Allow them to master responsibility in small chunks.
3. Learn from your mistakes
Whether your kids are 2 years apart, or 10 years apart, analyze your successes and challenges from your first child. Analyze each mistake and challenge they faced, not only what they could have done better, but how you could have led them to be better.
4.Learn from the parental community
What works for one parent might not work for another, but it’s worth a try. Feel free to ask your friends and family, who are parents, for advice. Maybe some have already been faced with the same situation you are currently in with your child. Our way isn’t necessarily always the best way. Above all, always remember that the best source for advice is always available to us… the Bible.
5. Idle hands are the devil’s workplace
Keeping your children busy in extracurricular activities not only keeps them busy in productive and challenging ways, but also encourages teenagers to budget their time effectively.
6. Don’t avoid the birds and bees!
Teenagers are teenagers, biological beings whose bodies are going through a hormonal change that can be frustrating for them. The teachings that we have learned all together, within the Church Of Christ regarding abstaining from sexual relations until marriage, is the sole instruction on the topic. But we have the duty to be their constant reminder, be their guide in this time. Yes, it’s awkward. But you have the tools. You have the teachings of God and through modern technology you have countless resources that will help you educate your teenagers. Others simply instill in their children phrases such as “No sex, no drugs – and guess who’s watching you?” If they’re younger, before they head over to a friend’s house, have them remind themselves “I am a member of the Church Of Christ. I can make good decisions. God loves me and is always watching me.”
7. You will survive!
One day your teenager will come home and they will speak in one-word answers (if you’re lucky, it may just be grunts). Just remember that the lessons you instilled inside your child are still present within your teenager. They will re-emerge as a young adult with a wider understanding of the world. You, and they, will survive.
Faith & Family Team