Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Short Guide For Parents To Get Through The Preteen-Teenage Years

Yesterday I reran this favorite post of mine about how fast time flies.

It doesn't seem to fly by fast though when we're living those days with preteens and teens in the house, so I think it's time for me to pass along my 20/20 hindsight wisdom to parents who are living these years now. I've seen a daughter and a son through them. She is now 31 and he is 22. Obviously, I let them live.

1. Remember your parents let you live through your preteen and teenage years. I wasn't easy and I bet you weren't either. We all have our moments. This, too, shall pass. Really. No fooling.

2. Decide to let your children live. It may seeeeem like she's been 11 for 20 years, but she really hasn't. It's been more like 30. (See. You CAN still smile!)

3. Yes, I know these years are full of trying to be King/Queen of the Hill. Temper tantrums. Tears. Slamming doors. "You can't make mes". Grabbing the car keys and screeching out of the driveway. Calm down. You're an adult and too big to keep doing that. (Smiled again, huh?) Seriously though, focus on the good in your child and not so much on the difficult. It's really there. Promise. These aren't easy years on your child either. Growing up is hard.

4. So help your child grow up instead of trying to balk at nature. YOU grew up. You couldn't, and didn't, stay the baby your parents wished you could stay. Your child has to grow up too and mature. It's not an easy process and that instruction manual you're wishing for doesn't exist. And if you have more than one child...guess what...they'll each be different! Scream now at that thought and get it our of your system.

5. Don't be afraid of your child. Stick to the rules that need sticking to and relax the ones that can be relaxed and throw out the ones that need throwing out. Pick your battles so your home doesn't become a war zone. There really are things that are NOT worth fighting over. Ask yourself, "Is this going to really make a hill of beans worth of difference in five minutes or tomorrow?" If not, let it go.

6. Let your child make mistakes and don't rush in to fix them. Let your child suffer the consequences. If he or she is on the team or in the band and doesn't listen to the coach/leader and has to sit out a game or concert, don't go talk to the coach/leader. Talk to your child. If your child earned that "D" or "F"...accept it even if it's showing up on a transcript. That's part of the adult world that your child is moving into. Teach your child how to be part of the adult world and work within it. Don't teach them that a good pout will send mommy or daddy rushing into "fix" their messes.

7. Love your child through this season and laugh with him or her as much as you can. There is much to love and much laughter to share. Talk with your child not AT your child as much as you can.

8. Remember this, too, shall pass. All of it. One day you really will look back on these days and smile and you'll be proud of the young adult that you navigated through these times. These days can seem to drag on forever, but the day will come, I promise, when you'll look back and see how fast they flew by.

9. And that's where I began this post. The most important thing you can do, through all of this, is pray for your child. Every day, pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for the other parent, whether you're married or divorced, pray for the adults that have input into your child's life. And pray for everyone else that has input into your child's life, even that friend of theirs that drives you nuts. Pray for them.

Pray, love, laugh, discipline, let go.

This child really is a blessing. Never let go of that thought.

And be grateful.