Don't Be Your Teenager's Friend
It’s crazy but these kids of ours will grow up. They grow a little each day, getting smarter, stronger and yes, sassier. It may not seem like it but they want discipline.
I was a kid once. I had so much structure…too much if you would’ve asked my childhood-self. If a friend called my house (there were no cell phones at this time) that poor friend got the 5th degree of questions fired at them by my step-dad, trying to figure out their motive for calling and exactly how long they intended to be on the phone with me because we had one phone line and he was expecting business calls. When I was in high school it was WAY worse. If I was going to a Friday night football game or an outing with friends I had to answer questions first, lots of them. Who was going? Who was driving? How long have they had their license? Any tickets? Which boys would be there? What time does it start? What time does it end? Why do I need extra time for curfew? It was so annoying. I hated it…sometimes I would give up and decide to stay home.
One of my closest friends grew up with an opposing family structure…there was kind of no structure. Sometimes she would get told no, but if she continued to be persistent and argue, her parents would give in. She got to do pretty much anything she wanted, for better or worse. She got to date, stay out later at night, had not as many check-ins. I thought she had it made.
Fast forward to present day and we are both moms now. We talked about our childhood and I was surprised to hear her take as a now, adult, on her upbringing. She wished that her parents would have told her NO. There was and is quite a bit of damage to her relationship with her mom because she needed a parent, not another friend. She needed someone to teach her how to be responsible instead with any amount of push-back from her, they caved. Of course teenagers are the most annoying creatures alive. They are trying to figure out how to grow up without actually accepting new responsibility. Yet, it isn’t our job as parents to be friends with our children. My parents use to point this out to me all the time, I was clear on that fact.
As I became an adult, I didn’t depend on them anymore and as I had children of my own, our relationship deepened. My mom is one of my closest friends. I talk to her on the phone almost every day. I still don’t love all of the advice my parents give, nor take it, but I do respect it. I am grateful for the structure they provided, especially in my teenage years, it kept me safe. The rules held me accountable. If you are raising teenagers think back on your years as a teen. Did the rules in your house guide you, or did the lack of rules allow you to get into trouble? Expect your teen to fight you at every turn, but begin preparing now. Get your game plan ready and map out the kind of parent that you want to be, because likely, you may have to choose if you want to be their friend during those few short years, or for the long haul.