If you are a regular reader you know that my husband and I have four teenagers. If you didn’t know that fact about me, now you do. As a mom of teens, I usually feel like I am in the midst of the changing winds. One day the winds are calm and it’s smooth sailing, while other days I feel caught up in the storm of life. When the winds are blowing hard and the direction keeps changing, I just need to let go and see where the winds will take us. This past year has been a series of letting go.
I have a son who started college this fall. Not seeing him every day and knowing how he is spending his time has been a process of letting go. Supporting him with a call or text, yet not being there with him is a challenging feeling for me.
I have a daughter who is in high school and working a part-time job. She got her license this summer and the freedom of driving was intoxicating for her.
Another son is working on getting his driving hours to take the behind the wheel test. This is a big challenge of letting go for me. My kids would agree I am not a very relaxed passenger, gripping the door handle on every sharp turn we take on the road.
Our youngest son is forging his own way and interests through school and after-school activities. He has learned that playing the piano is an enjoyable interest when not being hassled by his parents to practice.
Changing from a directive role to a supportive role can be a challenge for parents. Here are some suggestions that have helped me to let go of my teen as my role as parent changes.
Daily reminders: One poem I enjoy using as a reminder is “She Let Go” by Reverend Safire Rose. The poem is a reminder that letting go is a choice and can be done with little fanfare.
Allowing teens to investigate new challenges: Try hard not say “Be careful” to your teen. This over-used phrase is associated with fear. Create healthy challenges around their interests and values such as trying out for a part in the play or seeking a new interest.
Trusting teens to have self-knowledge: Growing self-knowledge in teens can be as easy as asking them questions to explore with curiosity on what they believe are their strengths, weakness, interests and skills. Ask your teen what they like about themselves or call out the strengths you see in them.
Setting expectations: One of the expectations to set with teens is an agreement on the use of electronics. An interesting article published in The Atlantic dives into the question “Has Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” This article shows data indicating there is a real mental health danger for teens through the overuse of Smartphones. Once the expectation for phone use is in place, the parent’s role is to keep teens accountable to the agreement.
The changing winds of the teenage years can be a ride. Daily reminders, investigate, trust and setting expectations are just a few tips that you can use to help your teen to thrive in the world.
I have created a new tool for parents, the THRIVE Checklist. Click here to get the new tool to assess if you are guiding your teen to thrive!