Tag Archives: limits

On Being a Parent

Becoming a parent is easy. Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. There are as many “shoulds” and “oughts” about parenting as books on bookstore shelves. What should you do? Who do you listen to?

Some say trust your instincts. I agree. After all we are evolved to procreate and raise children in the culture of our heritage. It should be as easy as it appears for the birds and the bees. But where are all those wise instincts we’re born with? For most of us, they are buried under layers upon layers and years and years of being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We’re taught if we don’t listen to parents and elders, we will be in trouble, maybe not be loved or accepted. Years of learned experience has set up detours and roadblocks tricking most of us away from our instincts to look in the wrong direction for the answers.

The answer is found in trusting yourself.

But first you have to believe that you actually do know what to do? Probably you learned you shouldn’t trust yourself because you were taught to listen to your parents and teachers no matter what. Giving your opinion was thought of as rude and “talking back”. You probably decided to just keep quiet and stay out of the way so nobody yelled at you. Or you decided you didn’t need anybody and began listening to the wrong people. You learned so much in all those developing years – just not how to trust yourself.

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Hindsight on Gaming and Screentime

Gaming and computer usage is probably the hottest topic in parenting. I have said much about it and share some articles here, but there is nothing like the horse’s mouth. This mom of an 18 yr. old son and two teen daughters, commented on my Facebook Group so eloquently that I asked her if she would write more about her experience. Below is just that. I couldn’t have said it better, so I share it with you:

My son is now 18 and we had a talk recently about gaming and Fortnite specifically as we seem inundated with commentary around parent’s frustrations and concerns about the amount of time their kids are spending playing this game. It was a fascinating chat as we have some perspective now and can reflect on what worked and equally importantly what did not work well managing his love of gaming growing up.

Looking back, my seminal moment came when he was 16 and wanted to use his own money to build a PC for gaming. He is now able to reflect on how we approached screens — this part was not always comfortable to hear — and how gaming now fits into his life as one of his many interests, hobbies and passions.

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10 Ways to Keep Up with Your Teen

Sometimes it’s all you can do to keep up with life. To keep up with your teen can seem daunting.

Your relationship with your teen can make or break your teen’s experience and relationships with peers, friends, school, and family. Research shows that connection with family is the #1 preventive factor in substance abuse, addiction, pregnancy, and school failure throughout the teen years.

Connection means that when faced with a dilemma or decision, your teen will first think what would my parents say? instead of what would my friends say? Connection does not guarantee smart decision-making—your teen is in the developmental risk taking years—but it puts you first and foremost in your teen’s mind. If your teen fears punishment, thinks you will not understand, knows she can’t talk to you, she will turn to her friends for the support and understanding she needs.

Here are 10 ways to keep up and keep connected:

1. Understand development — Your teen reverts to the egocentricity you haven’t seen since toddlerhood. Everything is about him. He is evolutionarily programmed to take risks in order to discover what you cannot teach. His prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until 25, which means he is less able to control impulses, allow thinking before acting, and foresee the consequences of his actions. Expect this!
2. Be playful — Your teen is likely to think you are “clueless”. If you can play along you will gain points in her estimation. Counter with humor, “Back in the 1800s, we didn’t even have electricity. Can you help this old lady with her iphone?” Light-heartedness may lead to laughter. Learn to tease her in a way that she likes, and she will tease you back. Humor cures most ills.
3. Don’t take it personally — Your teen is going to throw barbs that can hurt if you let them penetrate. When you hurt, you are likely to retaliate. He can leave the house anytime he feels like it. Don’t kick him out the door with nagging, threats and blame and into the precarious security of his peers. Wait for your emotions to calm, but don’t let it go. Come back with, “I didn’t appreciate your comment. Can you say what you wanted in a more respectful way, please?” Be willing to take a certain amount of attitude before you draw your line.
4. Set limits but allow independence — Your limits need to grow with your teens need for independence. Work out agreed upon limits and rules together. Let go of “No, you can’t.” She will show you she can. Get in the habit of “I don’t want… that doesn’t work for me… let’s figure this out so we’re both okay with it.” Letting go is the hardest skill for the parent of a teen.
5. Trust — Beneath this egocentric, inconsiderate, risk taker, your teen has all the capability and kindness he has ever had. That child did not vanish although you wonder sometimes. If you send messages that you do not trust him, he will learn to be untrustworthy. When you show your trust in that wonderful person you know is still in there, he will not want to betray your trust. Trust involves allowing him to discover the mistakes he needs to make for himself.
6. Accept — Unconditionally accept your teen no matter what. That does not mean accepting her behavior or agreeing with her. It means accepting that at this stage of development, given her circumstance, she will make mistakes, she will think she knows everything, and she will likely dismiss you. When you accept this, your reactions can calm to responses and fair limits.
7. Be honest — Your teen wants to know what’s going on. He can see through attempts to skirt issues that feel uncomfortable or when you are being dishonest. Get in the habit of talking about the world, what’s going on in your life and your community. Don’t wait for his questions. Teens don’t want to let on they don’t know, so they don’t ask.
8. Find windows of opportunity — Just because your teen chooses to spend time alone or with her friends and barely acknowledges your presence, she still wants you there. Keep a look out for those windows when she will connect. She wants to—just not most of the time.
9. Make your house the hub — Encourage your teen to bring his friends to your house. Make it inviting with food and a welcoming atmosphere. Disappear when appropriate but also be a friend to his friends and have fun.
10. Do your homework — find out what your teen is interested in and get interested too. Together watch favorite TV shows, look at fashion magazines and catalogues, attempt to play video games, go on bike rides, concerts, etc. Teens still like to have fun with their parents.

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