Welcome, friends! You can tell from the title of this post that we’re talking about parenting teens today. Do you have any guesses as to what question I might be referring to above?
In general, parenting can feel like a moving target. You get comfortable in one stage and feel like you’ve got this parenting gig figured out. And then out of nowhere, your child hits a new stage and you’re back to square one!
As a mom, I felt pretty comfortable through those early childhood and elementary school years. After all, I had a degree in early childhood education, so those were my people 🙂 But then those middle school years hit. I quickly realized that I was out of my league!
As our kids get older, we’ll find ourselves facing new situations that require some boundaries…at least in our minds! It could be our teen getting his driver’s license or our daughter wanting to go out with friends after a ball game.
Sometimes they’ll come to you and ask permission to do something. You know you want to lay out some guidelines before you say “yes.” Or you may initiate the conversation because you see that the time is right to allow them to do something new but there are boundaries that need to be drawn first.
One option in these situations is to come up with the boundaries on your own, then tell your teen that this is how we’re going to handle it. And there could be a time and place for that.
But as your teenager matures and grows in independence, we as parents want them to learn how to set boundaries for themselves.
So how about if you sat down with your teenager and asked them this question.
What do you think we should do?
Genuinely ask for and listen to their input. Talk through the situation and see what limits they think are appropriate. They may have thoughts or ideas that you haven’t even considered.
And if you think they’ll just go easy on themselves, you might be surprised. We often found that what our daughters suggested was along the same lines as what we were thinking. And they might be more likely to stick to those limits when they’re the ones who came up with them!
Could there be times when you have to tighten up the boundaries a bit? Yes. But you’ve still engaged them in thinking through the situation and made them part of the decision process.
Another time this question comes in handy is when your teen has done something they shouldn’t have and consequences have to be given. If you’ve set specific consequences for their behavior beforehand, then follow through on those.
But if not, ask that question. What do you think we should do? Give them the chance to come up with what they think their “punishment” should be. Again you have the final say, but see what they come up with on their own.
Leading our teens through this thought process can be helpful for them and for us as well! We get opportunities to explain the reasoning behind our rules. And they can begin to own the limits or boundaries that come with their growing independence.
- 7 Ways to Parent a Teenager
- 10 Ways to Build a Relationship with Your Teenager
- 5 Helpful Steps to Parenting Your Teenager Well