It’s been four weeks since we had our last argument. What changed? Me. A little self-evaluation and communication went a long way.
You want your teenager to make responsible choices, but how can they learn if you don’t let them practice. It is like tug of war; you tug the rope to bring them closer and they tug the rope to pull away, and each tug is stronger from both ends. Just let the rope go. Now is the time to talk, not tug.
How I managed to have an “argument free”relationship with my teen.
We sat down and talked! We talked about what drove us crazy, about future goals and how choices we make today will affect our tomorrow. Then we discussed the topics below together, with some negotiations on both ends.
1. Set grade standards that need to be monitored, NOT by you, the parent, but by your teenager.
- Grades remain A- and above with the exception of Honors Geometry B+
2. Establish daily times together.
- Dinner each night around 6
- No phones at the table
- Everyone helps cleanup after
- Everyone helps prepare lunches for the next day
3. Pick your battles, what do you argue about the most?
- Room does not need to be clean everyday
- Bathroom does not need to be clean everyday
- Homework is done at a desk not on the bed
- Bedroom door stays open during daylight hours
- Plans are made ahead of time (at least 24 hours before) and details are given (who, what, when and where)
4. Follow through, what are the consequences for poor choices?
- If grades fall below standard, then social life is on hold until they are up again.
- If room and bedroom are not neat, then social life in on hold until they are neat.
- If plans change without communication, social life is on hold until further notice.
5. Discuss uncomfortable topics.
- Talk about sex, birth control, drugs, overdosing, alcohol, depression, social media, being kind to everyone, etc in open conversations whenever the opportunity arises, no filter.
6. Make a “Game plan.”
- Make a “game plan” to get out of an unsafe or uncomfortable situation. (Phone call, text message,find my Phone action button.)
7. Don’t interrogate
- Ask a few questions,not 20. Interesting how when you don’t ask, they offer. Questions I ask are; “how was the ….?” “Was (friend’s name) there?” “Give me the dirt, any gossip to share?” This has led to some interesting conversations over the past month that turned into teachable moments.
8. Be a Parent and Be a Friend
- You hear so often “You are the parent, not the friend.” You need to be both. Understand where they are in their life, listen intently and be their best friend. Respect their opinions, make connections and show you understand their feelings. Place realistic boundaries, clear expectations and explain reasons; simply saying“because I said so” will not build a strong relationship but saying “I remember going to parties and they were fun, but I also remember the kids that got in trouble because they were…, and that is why I feel worried. I trust you to make good decisions.”
By stepping back and evaluating my actions I am now able to allow my daughter to make decisions on her own without my constant nagging (I still have veto rights :-)) Her successes will be hers to celebrate and her failures will be hers to learn from. My house is a happy place again. Leave me your comments at the link below…once you click it, scroll to the bottom of the page! I would love to hear about what has worked for you, as I am always looking for new approaches!
Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me your story and some things you did that worked.