It’s never too late to teach your children to be independent. While I know that something it is easier, and might even seem like the best thing to do to ‘rescue’ your teen when they need help, but nothing could be further from the truth. The best thing you can do for your teens is to allow them to learn through trying, doing and mistakes and be there to listen, understand and support them to get up and try again ‘I am right here beside you’.
Here are our 12 things you should never do for your teen:
- Their college applications: it is your child’s chance to make a statement, good or bad, and any interference on our part would only diminish their self-esteem.
- Contact their school/college tutor or teacher about a grade: Hanging back and allowing your kid to confront their teacher about a grade or punishment they deemed unfair – and, yes, to sometimes get shot down – is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. But it’s also probably one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your teenager or older child.
- Fight their ‘friend’ battles: some things they have to handle themselves. If someone has been unkind to your child, THEY need to speak up and sort it out. Don’t fight your child’s battles at the age of 15! If you don’t teach your kid to swim in the sometimes-nasty pool of friendship, they will do nothing but sink. One of the most valuable lessons you can teach a kid is how to handle confrontation with their peers.
- Choose their friends: there’s nothing wrong with introducing your children to new people. But you have to let them take the lead when it comes to friendships. When our kids were younger, we probably remember many a time when we tried to push them to be friends with someone simply because we were friends with their parents or thought they were ‘good’ kids to hang out with. Bad idea. Children only end up resenting us. If you think about it, you’ve probably been friends with many people your own parents didn’t approve of. Trust your children – especially your older kids – to figure out the personality types that best suit them.
- Speak for them: even though tempting, don’t butt in and answer many of the questions posed to your young teenager. ‘Shut up’ and let your child speak for themselves and maybe you’ll be surprised at how eloquently they can answer the question. It may seem helpful, but they’ll never learn to speak for themselves if you do. Remember, practice makes perfect. If your teen is really shy try to engage them in the conversation, ask their opinion and thoughts.
- Lie for them: don’t plead for your kids to get out of a soccer match, a confirmation class or a piano lesson and don’t tell a white lie or two. Instead, become more of a suffer-the-consequences kind of mum, one who wants her teenagers to fulfil their obligations and not shirk their duties so that they may turn into responsible adults.
- Choose their career: I’ve known people who have made snide comments about their kid’s choice of career or the earning potential of their choice of work. Not helpful. The most important thing is that our kids are happy. If that means they want to drive a taxi for the rest of their life, then so be it. Same holds true when it comes to hobbies. You should never push them towards any interest or activity. “Childhood is the time to expose them… and then they have to do what calls to them,” said one mum.
- Clean their room: if it is a mess then so be it. Do not let them think you are their servant, they will lose respect for you and you will lose respect for yourself. Your children will get lazy and become unfit for real work and you will get angry and indeed label them as lazy.
- Don’t become their ATM: teach your children the value of money by letting them get a job or work around the house to earn pocket money. Support them to find a job, don’t find it and apply for them.
- Don’t think for them: even though you know the answer and you think it is brilliant, let your child think of their own idea, carry it through and then experience the positive or negative consequences.
- Don’t try to be just their friend: while it is ok to be friendly, have fun together and have a good relationship you also need to be confident in taking the parenting role during conflict and hard times. It’s ok that they don’t tell YOU everything – they have friends for that! By adopting a parenting role, your kids will be more likely to confide in you when they need strong parenting advice.
- Be their time keeper: we just want to help and be nice by constantly reminding our children about time – getting up in the morning, getting out of door in time for the school transport, activities/sport arrangements, doctor/school appointment; even reminding them about getting ready for parties or ‘hang out’ dates. But by letting them keep track of their own time and life they will learn to become responsible members of society and get ready for working life. Let them learn the consequences of being late and then they will not do it again. Be prepared to stick to it; you are not their personal assistant!
Wishing you good luck from The ParentingSuccess Team
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