I remember a time in my life when every waking hour was spent devoted to feeding and sleep routines, nappy changes, and toilet training.
Then somewhere along the way between the Tooth Fairy visits, starting school and the childhood illness, my kids grew up.
I had my girls when I was young. I had no family support and had moved to a town where I knew few people. I am not ashamed to admit I struggled. I learnt how to parent on the fly and I have made mistakes (I am sure my Barnardos Mother of the Year award got lost in the mail!). I am a great believer we are all just products of our parents’ psychoses in life and my girls are no different.
But then I turned around one day, and Barbie had been replaced with an iPod, and next week, I send my daughter off on work experience 800km from home to a mine site, and I start wondering where did the time go and how much do I have left to be an influence in their lives?
Every parent says the teenage years are the hardest, and I am starting to work out why, it’s nowhere near as hard on our teens as it is on us parents! I am lucky my girls are too cool for school, and despite being up to speed with the latest and greatest, they are happy with their lot in life and are yet to rebel to any great effect. The teenage years are hard for parents, the ability to switch from parental role to maintenance and guidance is fraught with danger, mix that with a whole lack of experience on my behalf and out of control hormones on the kids’ behalf, and it is easy to see why some animals eat their young!
All of a sudden, my questions have changed from what type of formula is the best, and how many times a day should my kid poo, to what is the appropriate age to start shaving, and do you need more pads from the supermarket! And I admit, I am struggling with this transition. Next year, my eldest starts her senior years and my youngest starts high school. I know I need to let them go and explore the world and have experiences but I am still struggling with them having to cross a main road without supervision!
So here are my tips for raising Teens:
1. Start early
It’s like training a monkey: the earlier you start, the better the outcomes.
It is a two way street. You don’t have to like their ideas. You don’t have to agree with them, but you have to respect that they have their own ideas and work with that reality. This does not mean you have to live with their nose-piercing; it is acceptable to tell them to take it out!
3. Know Boundaries
They all need them. They will hate you for it and that’s okay. It is okay to screw the window, shut if they keep climbing out. I have seen it done to great effect.
4. Consistency is the key
You may think it’s okay to go to an underage disco at 11 because it is cute and no chance of anything too untoward happening, but are you going to feel the same way at 15 when the potential of danger is greater. Bed times are still acceptable.