I think your parenting style changes as your children go through different life stages. I’ve been thinking recently about how my parenting has evolved as the boys have moved into their older teens. Our household has always been pretty laid back, but a few wobbles recently have made me fall back upon the rules that I’ve always leant on to give the boys boundaries. Here are my current thoughts on my very own ‘best practice’.
1. Don’t be afraid to say no. They’ll often just accept it. Give your reasons, then that’s it. A no isn’t up for discussion.
2. Make your house rules clear, then stick to them. Our house rules include: no smoking, absolutely zero tolerance on drugs, no drinking if we’re not at home. Ask first before assuming something is okay, and always, always show respect for others in the house.
3. Insist on knowing where they are. If our boys are out, we expect a text to say exactly where they are at all times. You pay for the phone, make sure they’re using it for YOUR benefit.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My mum always said if you’re polite when you’re in public, I’ll give you a bit of slack when you’re at home. I think it’s great advice, so if there’s the odd swear at home, I’ll let it go.
5. Don’t be nosy. Teenagers value privacy above all else. As an inherently nosy person, I’ve learned this the hard way. Keeping quiet when you’re desperate to know something is often the best policy. The gossip might get passed on to you anyway at a later date. Car journeys are great for no-pressure chats. Just don’t expect sparkling conversation on the morning school run.
6. Lead by example. Everyone loses it occasionally, and nobody is perfect. If you’ve been a tit, just admit it and say sorry. Then everyone can move on.
7. Punishments don’t work. As they get older, a chat and an explanation as to why you’re disappointed and what can be changed in the future work much better. My boys know that I won’t go the extra mile for them if they’re playing up. Good behaviour gets rewarded.
8. Be honest with yourself (and them) about what you were like as a teenager. You snuck a cheeky cigarette behind the bike sheds and you turned out okay, didn’t you?
9. Be someone they look up to. I think it’s really important for them to see that I’m not just a parent, I have a relationship that I cherish, friends that I adore, and my own life too. Take time out for yourself, whether that’s getting out for some fresh air with the dog, a glass of wine and a good book, or a night out at the cinema. Oh, and the golden rule? Be confident! Confidence is key, even if you’re doubting yourself inside (hint: everyone is).
10. And finally, enjoy them. Teenagers are hilarious, intelligent, pant-wettingly funny and delightful company. If you’re proud, let them know. If they did something amazing, praise them to the high heavens. If they’re in a concert, clap the loudest. Remember how stressful being a teenager is. Give them a hug and tell them you love them. It doesn’t matter that they’re a foot taller than you, everyone needs to feel loved.
How about you – what are your parenting rules?
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