Parents and Teens: A Few More Comments (Part 2)
I think a big part of parenting teenagers is self-control as in controlling oneself, not trying to control one’s near adult. If I can be more resilient as a parent then maybe I can parent more effectively. Psychologists call this “differentiation” and it is the ability to separate emotions from thoughts. When thinking becomes clouded by emotional responses, we become undifferentiated. Families with lots of emotionally reactive reasoning used to be called “undifferentiated ego mass.” Lovely description of a family isn’t it?
Back to some comments about parenting teens with an understanding that no one does this perfectly. So first,
— Give up on being a perfect parent or having a perfect kid. Reality is more helpful than perfectionism.
— Don’t push your power, your age or your wisdom. Just because you own the mortgage on the home does not mean that you have the right to coerce or pummel your teens into compliance.
— Believe in your teen’s hyperbole. Exaggeration and overstatement is a favourite in adolescent communication. You don’t need to correct her. Anyway, she might just be the best Math student on the planet.
— You don’t have to be your kids’ friend. Accept yourself as a parent and learn to be good at it.
— Value what he or she has to say even when you disagree or have a different opinion.
— Speak quietly especially when the tension is rising. Tension goes up, voices go quieter and everybody listens more intently.
— Be careful of quick decisions. Quick conclusions are soon problems.
— Admit when you don’t know something. This is easier to do than you think. And your kid will appreciate your incompetence and see it as common ground.
So you might ask, “Did you do all these things?” Uh, no. I just did my best like you. But I wish that someone told me some of this while I was an undifferentiated ego mass.