The truth is this: parenting adolescents is just plain tough! In this post, we will discuss the “top 20 parenting mistakes” that are commonly made by moms and dads today – and what they can do to correct these parenting mistakes.
Top 20 Parenting Mistakes When Raising Teens
1. Parents are not always approachable. Take an interest in what your youngster is up to and make this a two-way conversation by sharing bits of your own day with him. Also, never interrogate a youngster about where he has been and what he has been up to. By making this a normal part of everyday life, your youngster will then feel relaxed and confident about approaching you when he has a problem or needs advice.
2. Parents assume that educating is someone else's responsibility. All too often it is assumed that it is the role of the schools to not simply teach your adolescent reading and writing, but also all about the dangers of drugs, drinking, pre-marital sex and anything else you care to mention. This is not the case! The responsibility for educating your kids rests firmly at your door and, while the schools can certainly be extremely helpful to you in fulfilling this role, it is still up to you to sit down with your kids and talk to them about drugs, drinking, sex and everything else they will need to equip them for adult life.
3. Parents assume that good grades mean that all is well. Many moms and dads make the mistake of assuming that if an adolescent is doing well at school, then everything must be fine. A bright kid may however have little difficulty maintaining good grades, and knowing that this will keep you off his back gives him the opportunity to go out drinking, experiment with drugs, or anything else he chooses. Good grades are nothing more than an indication that the student is making satisfactory progress academically.
4. Parents cushion their kids from feeling certain emotions. Life is an emotional roller-coaster, and kids need to learn to handle emotions. For example, if your youngster has done something wrong and perhaps hurt somebody else in the process, then he should feel guilty. Experiencing emotions such as guilt and learning how to deal with them and to overcome them is a healthy part of growing up.
5. Parents don’t choose their battles wisely. Adolescents will always want to do things that you do not agree with, but you do more harm than good if life becomes a constant battleground. If Michael wants to grow his hair long, then it's not the end of the world – and it can always be cut short again later. However, if Sarah wants to get a tattoo, which she is going to have to live with for the rest of her life, then this is probably a battle worth fighting.
6. Parents don’t give adolescents some room to explore. Adolescents need to learn to stand on their own two feet, and that means allowing them an increasing degree of independence as time goes on. This does not mean that you should not keep an eye on them and steer them in the right direction, but do not be too quick to jump in.
7. Parents don’t have a set of rules and a system of discipline. Moms and dads need to first come to agreement themselves on the rules for their adolescents and the appropriate punishment for breaking these rules so that they are both reading from the same page. Thereafter, teens should clearly know and understand the rules so that there is no surprise when they find themselves being disciplined for infringing them.
8. Parents don’t have a system for staying informed. Adolescents need to have a degree of freedom, but you also need to have the peace of mind of knowing where they are and that they are safe. It is important to set up some sort of system for them to keep in touch with you and to get into the habit of, for example, calling when they are out for the evening to let you know that all is well.
9. Parents don’t invite their kid's friends to the house. Most moms and dads will have experienced their adolescents spending time with friends that you don't approve of, but almost as many parents make this judgment without ever having actually met these peers. There is also more than a little truth in the old saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.
10. Parents don’t talk to their kids about risks. Nowadays adolescents are surrounded by temptation, and this very often brings with it considerable risk so, whether it's drugs, drinking and driving, premarital sex or anything else, your kids need to have their eyes opened for them before they venture out alone.
11. Parents don’t teach their kids how to deal risk. Having opened an adolescent’s eyes to the risks of the modern world, it is important that you also equip them to deal with those risks. For example, if the only way to get home from a party appears to be to climb into a car with a drunken friend, then they need to know not only that this is a risk which they are not to take, but that they can call you whatever the time to come and pick them up.
12. Parents don't follow through with consequences. The majority of moms and dads do not have any problem with laying down a set of rules for their adolescents and coming up with suitable consequences, but all too many have difficulty when it comes to enforcing the rules or handing out consequences. Your adolescent needs to be given boundaries and, perhaps more importantly, he needs to know that there will be disciplinary measures imposed if he breeches these boundaries. You are not doing your adolescent any favors if you end up teaching him that rules don't really matter and that it is okay to simply break them whenever he feels like it.
13. Parents don't keep up with modern teen behavior. It's only natural for you to look at your adolescent's development and compare it to your own days as an adolescent. But adolescents today are very different, and the changes from one generation to the next can be frightening. Take some time to educate yourself about modern adolescent life not simply by talking regularly with your adolescent kids, but also by looking at teen magazines, television and of course the internet. Some things will be seen as positive developments and others as negative but, whatever the changes, it is important to understand that this is the world in which your adolescents and their peers are growing up.
14. Parents expect only positive results. All too often we expect our kids to be well behaved and to achieve good grades in school and so do not praise good behavior or good results. At the same time we are all too quick to jump in and react to bad behavior or poor results. Kids do of course need to be disciplined for bad behavior and poor grades (assuming that their poor grades are the result of their own laziness), but they also need to be given praise for good results.
15. Parents forget that they are role models. Kids learn more by example than in any other fashion and your words and, more importantly, your actions will be extremely influential for your youngster's development.
16. Parents give in too quickly. Adolescents are very good when it comes to getting what they want and can be extremely creative when it comes to working out how to get you to say 'yes'. They will also rarely take 'no' for an answer first time out and will keep on you until they get their way. Let your adolescents play this game as it is part of the learning process, but hold your ground and be consistent. At the end of the day if the answer needs to be 'no' – then don't back down.
17. Parents ignore the need for family time. Because we all lead busy lives these days, it is often difficult to fit everything in and one of the first things to go is often family time. Setting aside some time every day for the family to eat together and to talk is essential to provide your kids with the opportunity to get advice, encouragement and feedback from you and for you to see whether everything is well or if there are problems looming on the horizon. Even if you cannot spare a great deal of time, 20 or 30 minutes sitting down to an evening meal as a family can be invaluable.
18. Parents ignore the obvious. When your adolescent suddenly starts doing such things as sleeping in, missing classes and missing curfew, you might be tempted to simply write it off as normal adolescent behavior. But could there be more to it than that? You don't want to over-react, but don't under-react either. If there is a problem now is the time to root it out. So, don't bury your head in the sand and wait for things to blow up in your face.
19. Parents lecture rather than discuss. If the adolescent is going to develop into a responsible grown-up who is capable of making decisions, then you need to teach him just how to go about making decisions. All too often it is easier to simply tell an adolescent what to do (and what not to do) rather than to take the time to sit down and discuss the options, pointing out the pros and cons, and showing them how to choose the right path. Not only does this not help your adolescent to develop the skills he needs, but it also often leads to unnecessary confrontation.
20. Parents set unreasonable goals. An important part of an adolescent's development is learning to set goals and then constructing a plan to achieve them. This means that you also need to set goals for your adolescent and teach and encourage him to meet them. However, if you set goals that are unrealistic, then you are simply setting your adolescent up to fail. Thus, be reasonable in your expectations.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents