Parenting Teens and Preteens – Unique Challenges and Blessings
Parenting a teen is a completely different world for me. My oldest is fourteen. She is an absolute dream to parent, so I've been able to ease into this. I'm taking notes for myself just in case I need them in the future.
The biggest challenge I've found is the transition between guarding their every move and letting them have a little freedom.
We regularly talk about consequences and expectations. I think this has helped her navigate decisions more easily. She knows what her father and I expect, and does not have to guess at what will happen if she makes bad choices.
We also reward her for times when she exceeds our expectations. Anytime she proves herself trustworthy, we tell her how much we appreciate her. We also usually stretch her boundaries whenever she proves herself to be responsible. This makes it easy for her to see exactly when she is doing things well.
For example, if she follows the rules about when and how often to text on her cell phone, we give her a free day the next Saturday. She can text her friends until her thumbs fall off if she wants.
Now, this is the hard part - she notices every single thing I do. It is different than when she was three and repeated everything I said. Now, she notices my attitude towards people. She picks up on when I don't want to fulfill an obligation. She can tell when I am annoyed with responsibilities. Once upon a time, I thought watching what I said was hard. Now, I watch my attitude and body language, too.
The blessings? Having conversations with your child about anything and everything - faith, freedom, and pop culture. Their point of view is so unique and so interesting. She keeps me on my toes with the questions she asks. She challenges me in new ways and I love that!
I'm not singing Barney songs with her in the car, but we are belting out harmony to Audrey Assad instead. Now that, is my kind of fun!
Are you parenting a teen or preteen? What are you finding as the unexpected blessings?