Perhaps your teen is on the way out of the door. It’s her junior or senior year and the days are flying by. Before you know it, she’ll be out on her own. Have you prepared her? Are you prepared?
Resolution: To help my teen grow up
- Is my teen trustworthy?
- Am I willing to allow my teen to make her own decisions as long as she is trustworthy?
- Do I struggle to let go and why?
- Am I willing to allow my teen to learn through his mistakes?
One teen I know was known by many as the “good” guy. He did the right things. He loved God. He listened to his parents. But this teen was also known by a few as the frustrated-out-of-his mind guy.
Because no matter how old he was, he had the same rules that he had when he was a younger teen. He had to check in constantly with his parents. If plans changed and he and his friends stopped by WalMart on the way home, he had to call. If they went to McDonalds instead of Burger King and he didn’t tell his parents, he was in trouble.
Every decision he made had to be scrutinized by his parents. Every friend reviewed. He had strict rules about driving, and strict rules about curfew. If he was at a school event or church event, it didn’t matter. His curfew was inflexible, and a couple of hours earlier than his peers.
This teen felt untrusted. To be honest, I’m not sure why he didn’t rebel. I worried that he would freefall when he went to college. Every decision had been made for him. He was in a no-error/no-mistakes zone and in college no one would be looking over his shoulder.
Knowing your teen is crucial. It helps you let the reins loose, or to tighten them as needed temporarily. But if you keep a tight rein on a trustworthy teen, the message you are sending is “you can’t make decisions without me”. It can be crippling.
So, let the reins loosen as your teen shows his or her trustworthiness. Is it scary? Sure, but it’s part of the learning and growing up process.
I struggle to let go.
It’s hard, isn’t it? Just yesterday they were dependent on you for everything, and now they seem to not need you at all. But you are still needed. Your role is changing. When they were young you were like a T-ball coach on the field, helping them make the right moves, teaching them how to bat, how to run, how to get up when they fall down. But now your role is on the sidelines. You are still a coach, but you encourage them when they make a great play or pass. You may occasionally call a time-out, but for the most part you are watching them run the plays.
What if they make a mistake?
The more accurate question is, “What do I do when they make a mistake?”.
The level of mistakes will vary. Maybe your teen will come in late or maybe it’s on a much higher level. The key is that we trust them until our teen gives us something to not trust them about. We don’t parent out of fear, but out of truth.
If your teen comes in late, ask these questions:
1. Was there a legitimate reason?
2. Is my teen’s curfew reasonable for his age/trustworthy level?
3. Was it inconsiderate or blatantly against the rules?
We can’t level consequences by one inflexible rule — you’re late = you’re in trouble today and forever. If it’s an honest mistake, then you grow through it together. What can be done differently next time? Do you need to be a little more flexible? If it’s blatant, then consequences help your teen grow through the action. They are still loved. There’s still hope for a second chance after a period of time. But the consequence teaches them that they are responsible for their choices.
Don’t forget that every comment on these three blog posts on Resolutions and Your Teen will be entered for a copy of Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know.
Sounds very logical – and yet very hard to do!
It’s long term parenting versus short term. You are right. This is hard when your child is accustomed to a different pattern. It’s hard when your child tests you to see if you’ll go back to that old pattern, but long term it is growing together, it is launching your child into adulthood with the tools she’ll need to navigate that new part of her life. Parenting itself is a mix of joy and a challenge. But so worth it!
What do you do after your teen breaks your trust? How do you trust again? Most of all when does the hurt go away?
That is a tough issue that I have dealt with also Amber. I don’t have an easy answer. I try to remember the times that because of my poor choices I have let God down and my actions have hurt Him. He loves me anyway and I try to do that with my children. Love them like God loves me. It is not easy. Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done.
Sorry. I forgot to put my name. The comment above is mine.
Sounds good and logical. Parenting is hard. I just wish
I had more confidence in me and
knowing wether I am doing the
Right things or not. I mean, I know the mistskes when I
make them, and that worries me too. I just keep praying the end
result will be good. It is hard to keep starting
over! and think it’s going to be ok!
What you do matters. I hear the heart of a mom that wants to do the best she can for her children and that is a beautiful trait!
I am at this place with my teen. You won’t be shocked, but she has voiced that she needs to be allowed to show me she can be trusted. In doing so, she has given me feedback that I need in order to parent her at this phase of life. She has shown me I can trust her and also knows that there are still consquences if she doesn’t obey the rules that still are in place. Since she is my only child, I find that this is a hard place to be; but I trust her and know that God has her in His perfect care.
Hi Amber, we pull in the reins when they can’t be trusted, but leaving room for forgiveness, growth, and a second chance as they earn back trust.
Wow, great blog post. Just discovered your site after seeing review of “Real Teens, Real Stories, Real Life” on Crosswalk. I am ordering this book to read with my teen son this summer. We’ve had some serious struggles with him showing us he cannot be trusted during his first year in pulic school after homeschool. Amazingly, he still has a good sttitude toward me, his mom. I am hoping and praying he will be open to going through a couple of books with me this summer.