It can be hard parenting teenagers. They are young adults and you need to strike that balance between wanting to protect them with wanting them to develop their own wings ready to fly. You know that they are influenced increasingly by the world around them and their friends, and you just need to hope that you have built a strong enough relationship with them that they will make the right choices.
As they mature, they are bound to make some decisions that you might not agree with. Hopefully there won’t be too many of these, but the chances are that there will be a few. There will be moments when you need to take a few breaths when parenting teens before reacting to ensure that you can get it right.
It might be when you find out that they weren’t where they told you they would be. It might be when you find a vape mod or some contraception in their bag. It might be when you get a phone call telling you that they have skipped school. Whatever the situation, here are a few tips to handling it calmly with your teen.
Open up the conversation
Find a time to talk, preferably that same day so that things don’t fester or worry you for too long. Bring it up when it is just the two of you and neither of you are in a rush to be somewhere else. Let them know what you’ve discovered and that you’d like to talk it over with them. You always want your children to feel that they can talk to you as their parent, and hopefully this is a message that they have been receiving from you loud and clear for many years now, so this shouldn’t be completely unexpected to them.
Explore their reasons
This is the key to this conversation. Why did that thing actually happen? You are only likely to get to the true reason by opening up the conversation and remaining calm. You need to encourage and reassure so that your child can feel that they can open up to you. Remember that they may well feel embarrassed about your discovery, so do allay that worry with them so that you can move past it.
Once you know the reason, you can start to understand the chain of events that led to it happening. Only then can you start to be able to address it and potentially prevent things from happening again in the future.
Your children don’t need your judgement, they need your understanding. They might not be making choices that you made, but that doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. Making mistakes is all perfectly normal anyway, your kids just need to know that we all make them and how to get over them.
Get them to talk through their reasons and their actions and allow them to come to their own conclusions on whether they have done the right thing or not. This is considerably more powerful than you talking at them.
Reaffirm rules and boundaries
Now this one is entirely personal and depends on the rules and boundaries that you have laid down in the past. If they have clearly broken house rules and you are uncomfortable with their reasoning, then you may want to reaffirm them and agree some penalties.
However, you might find yourself agreeing with some new boundaries for them in keeping with what they want and why. Be open to this course of action, and if you are a two-parent household, ensure that both parents are onside with these new rules.