This week I asked my kids what parenting techniques they felt were the most effective. I figured they were turning out pretty well, so they might be able offer helpful hints on parenting from the teen perspective. What I got was a lot of what they feel doesn’t work. So maybe I shouldn’t pat myself on the back so quickly.
So for what it’s worth, here’s what they had to say. Some of these come from their personal experience, some from things they have seen. So yes, there is a bit of slighting of my parenting here. I can say that this little exercise has taught me a thing or two. First off, maybe it’s best not to ask your kids what they think.
Anyway, here goes. This list is in no special order.
- Support your kids in activities but don’t force them.
- Don’t make them feel bad about a decision they made when you didn’t give them a straight answer. (Blog on this one can be found here).
- The oldest should get the latest curfew.
- Don’t make fun of your kids when they want to talk to you about something they already feel bad about.
- Don’t pester or bug your teens.
- It helps not to spoil.
- Don’t make favorites blatantly obvious.
- Don’t continually lecture them about things they have no control over, like school policies you disagree with or other kids’ bad decisions.
- Don’t push for perfection or yell at your kids for getting Bs.
- Guilt works on some people but not everyone.
- Don’t make the same food all the time. It gets old. (To this I say, make your own darn meals.)
- Forcing your children to drive when they really don’t want to won’t make them like driving.
- Don’t be too into their business. Give them some freedom.
- Don’t save dress shopping for a dance until the last minute because it’s way too stressful.
- Don’t try to live through your kids.
- Get your kids a pet. It can help relieve stress and bring happiness.
- Teens are already stressed. Don’t make it worse by yelling or adding to their stress level in other areas.
- Encourage kids to do things you know they will enjoy, even if they don’t know it yet.
- Trust your children if they haven’t given you reason not to.
- If your kid asked you not to do something, don’t do it.
- Limit screen time when kids are younger because it makes them play and use their imagination, but when they get older, lift those restrictions because they are so busy they need the down time.
- Be helpful with homework. Offer your best advice, don’t just say “figure it out yourself.”
- Don’t make your kids do your job for you. (Like writing this blog….)
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.