Parenting teenagers is not an easy job! It requires the strength of “Hercules” to control your emotions, the wisdom of “Socrates,” and the unconditional love of “Jesus.” Michael Bradley, in his wonderful book, Yes, Your Teen is Crazy, shares the ten most important aspects of parenting teenagers in this modern world. If you have a teen or pre-teen, read and memorize this list!!
1. BE THE CALM COP Be the dispassionate cop: respectful, calm, name the behaviour, warn about what lies ahead. Playing a bully cop distracts the teen from the real issue by focusing on contempt and anger.
2. LISTEN Say as little as possible and get your teen to talk, talk, talk. Talk about how he feels.
3. PLAN THE SPEECH Speak wisely and with few words as possible. Allow your teen to walk away as long as he knows you will continue at another time. Hint: if you shoot the breeze often, these speeches are not as hard.
4. DECISIONS CAN BE MADE LATER Don’t feel you have to respond right this minute. Train your teen that you will listen to their request and think about it.
5. LET HER HAVE THE LAST WORD Give up your need for control. Eventual compliance is better than an early victory. Hint: Survive Rage without Raging Back!
6. BE YOURSELF Don’t change to try to relate to your teen. Your child needs stability and your outdated clothes, rules about sex, drugs, and rock and roll are anchors. Hold to your values if even you cannot get total compliance. Teens need to have a vision of what is good and right.
7. APOLOGIZE Apologizing teaches teens lessons about respect, humility, honesty, courage, and self-discovery. Apology models, teaches and heals.
8. HONOUR YOUR CHILD’S SEARCH FOR IDENTITY The number 1 job of a teen is to figure out who she is: green hair, piercings, activism, and all. She is clarifying her values because she does not know who she is. She is having a crisis of identify because she does not have one. You want your teen to be crazy when you are still around to protect her; balance being supportive with keeping her safe. Hint: if you become angry, controlling or critical of these trials of identity she will become defiant and push further against your values. A teen that pushes hard enough may be condemned to a life of intimacy and relationship problems, depression, anxiety, poor career choices etc.
9. NO PHYISICAL INVOLVEMENT: HITTING OR PUSHING Be in total control of yourself at all times.
10. THIS TOO SHALL PASS Keep your focus on what is right with your teen. This crazy time will pass. Build bridges so that the healthy relationship will right itself as she grows into her twenties.