Adolescence, the period between childhood and adulthood, has grown longer in our time. Kids are experiencing puberty earlier and staying connected to their parents later in life than previous generations. Thus, adolescence in many instances can be just as tough a season on parents as it is on the kids!
A few years ago, I interviewed Dr. Kevin Leman, the internationally known author and about his book, Running the Rapids. In the book, Dr. Leman wrote a chapter titled “20 Rules for Surviving Your Kids’ Adolescence.” In this article, I’ll pass along five of Dr. Leman’s rules, along with my own comments.
- Follow Through. I’m a big believer in disciplining with consistency. Setting clearly expressed expectations and consequences is a must. Equally important is following through on consequences. By not following through, you send the message that your word isn’t worth anything.
- Watch Your Expectations. All parents want the best for their kids. The trick is to help them set and then achieve goals for themselves, rather than to expect them to live up to their parents’ goals.
- Accept Them Where They Are. Adolescence is a very turbulent time for kids. They can be a roller coaster of moods, emotions, and hormones all wrapped up together. If your daughter is brokenhearted over a “crush” that hasn’t worked out the way she had hoped, don’t belittle her or tease her over “puppy love.” Remember, “puppy love” is very real to “puppies.” Affirm your teen’s feelings. They are what they are – and they are real.
- Take Time to Listen. This is part of what I call “The Power of Being There.” Your presence makes a difference. When you really listen, your teen sees it as a sign of caring and connectedness. Listening is the language of love. Listen to your kids. In doing so, you’ll be demonstrating honor, love, respect, empathy, and acceptance.
- Respect Their Choices. This is a tough one for parents. It’s hard to watch kids make choices that we don’t want them to make. Believe me, I understand. But, it’s our goal to move kids from dependence on us to independence, and this means we have to respect their choices. Obviously, in terms of choices, there are some areas where we need to intervene, like in the issue of drugs and alcohol, for example. But for the most part, in an age-appropriate way, we should allow our kids to make their choices and live with the consequences. Remember, one of the best ways to learn is by experiencing failure.
(Rules excerpted from the book, Running the Rapids by Dr. Kevin Leman.)