Up your vibration with your teens.
1. Try really hard not to comment “Oh I see you decided to grace us with your presence,” or “Look who has risen from the dead,” or “Just 5 minutes of your face is all I ask so thanks for taking your face out of your phone,” as your teen comes to the table for dinner after being in their room for, oh, maybe three days. Let me just ask this of you, parents: How do you think it would feel if you finally get yourself to face people and your parent says something insulting or sarcastic or passive aggressive to you right out of the gate? Just asking. This is where a modicum of parental maturity helps.
2. When they don’t want to talk right when you pick them up from school and they set a boundary angrily, “Don’t talk to me,” don’t talk to them. Yep, they didn’t have to do it that way, but maybe they did or they couldn’t get it out. Respect their boundaries and one day they will respect yours.
3. Do your teen a favor, lay off their friends. These are their friends, not yours. Asking leading questions, judging, snickering, and making negative comments will shut your teen down quicker than you can snap your eyeballs back to the front of your face. Work really hard not to use their friends as examples of “how not to be” and “what not to do.” They know how you feel about those things, so you don’t really need to slam the friends to make your point. They will get all protective of their friends, and never tell you another honest thing about them. They will “show you.” Keep yourself safe for them to tell you anything about their friends. This will give you a bird’s eye view of their lives when they talk openly.
4. Word to the wiser: Teens need to be right and not challenged all the time on how stupid and little they know. Now, I know you don’t really want them to take in that message, but they do when you shut them down with snarky comments. Instead, listen and let them run on building their confidence and skill in the art of sounding intelligent. They will learn the difference between sounding and being intelligent down the road, but you may kill their confidence before they get that chance to learn it if you shut them down as they are practicing speaking with authority.
5. Look for things to like about your teen. Teens are used to your conditional love; yep, that’s what I said. We parents rarely demo our unconditional love. We give lots of praise and acceptance when they mow the lawn, clean their rooms, get good grades, and follow through on dressing up for the family pictures. Lots of approval shines right down on them when they are doing exactly what we think is right. The flip side is true, too. Lots of disapproval, negativity, snarkiness, and rejection get dished up when they don’t do a chore, have messy rooms, get poor grades, and look disheveled at family events. So, what does unconditional mean in the context of children from difficult beginnings?
You tell me.
Well, no, let me tell you how I think it would sound: “There are going to be lots of things I don’t love about your choices while you are growing up, sweetheart. Really. I already know that. So, I promise you this: I’m going to love you unconditionally every minute even on the days when you don’t love me all that much in the moment.”
That’s unconditional love.
I know this is the point where you ask me some kind of red-herring thing like: “When she kills someone, you still gonna be unconditional with your love?” I don’t know, maybe, but short of that, I’m going to accept my child through it all unconditionally and see where that gets them. I think it will get them further than conditional, “I’ll love you when you get it right,” because they May. Not. Ever. Get. It. Right. according to me. Do they still deserve to be loved? Up to you. And I think so.
The Love Matters Parenting Society membership is open to you right now at half price. Jump in. You will be glad to travel this road with some parents who get you. The material will set you free. That's a big promise.