Parenting teens can be challenging, though each teen is different. Recently, I have realized the importance of reminding my teens of something I used to tell them when they were little.
Though I have seven children, I am by no means a parenting expert. Just like most parents, I am learning as I go, using the parenting tools that I carry with me from my childhood along with some new ways I have gained along the way thanks to seminars, courses, books, and the wisdom of others. Parenting teens though has proven to be both better than I had expected and harder than I expected. I do not have as many tools in my parenting toolbox when it comes to dealing with my teens and am trying to add them as I go.
When my kids are young, one of the things that I tell them often is, “Mommy still loves you even when you make a poor choice.” I make sure that I separate the action from the child doing the action, ie: not labelling a child who has lied a “liar” and I reassure them of my love for them. They of course do get a consequence such as the loss of a privilege or an extra chore for their poor choices, but I remind them that no matter what, I love them. With young children, this is easy to do. They are so cute and cuddly and they respond positively to your words of affection.
It is so easy to remember to say “even when you lie, I still love you” to a young child who is hugging you and thinks you are the best mommy in the world. It is much more difficult to remember to say “even when you lie, I still love you” to a teen who is glaring at you and thinks you are the lamest mom in the world!!!
But it is our teens who need this reassurance the most. They are at a time in their life when peers can be cruel and life is moving quickly. Everything around them is changing and they need to know that the love of their parents has not changed. They need to know that no matter what bad choices they make and no matter how much attitude they have, their parents will still love them. Loving them despite their bad choices or bad attitude does not mean not giving them consequences for their actions, for those consequences and setting decisive limits demonstrate that love, but they also need to hear that love put into words.
This is much easier said than done, but I am trying to remind myself that it is in the times when they are the most difficult that they most need to be assured of my love. I am the same way myself, so why would I expect my teen to be any different? I like to know that I will be loved by those closest to me even when I make mistakes or wrong choices. We all struggle with insecurity and fear that we will lose the love of those around us if we make a mistake too big and we all need assurance that there are people who are in our corner no matter what.
So the next time your teen messes up, give them a logical consequence, but don’t forget to also remind them that you love them “no matter what”!
Published in: Family