You have lived with your child for over a decade. Your family dynamics have a predictable rhythm. Then …. suddenly your child is not dancing to the old familiar tune.
You keep trying the same moves but find you and your child are stepping on each other’s toes.
W h a t i s g o i n g o n ?
Well…the double digits have dialed in and we have discovered we need a new parenting dance. (And just when we could do our parenting moves blindfolded–those rascals change the steps.)
Here are 5 new steps for the parent-child dance in the tween and teen years.
1. Provide the guidelines but stay on the sidelines.
Our kiddos still need guidance… and they need the opportunity to work things out within that structure. Allow them the opportunity to try, to fail, to succeed, to own the outcome. Be available to assist when asked. We want to get our kids thinking. We want them to make wise decisions when we are not with in ear shot. The only way that will happen is with some practice.
2. Have rubber-band limits.
Limits can stretch and tighten depending on how your children respond. Rules on the other hand never change. Rules are consistent. They deal with values, morals, faith, safety, and legal issues. Limits adjust to the child’s level of maturity. Limits can be stretched when trust has been demonstrated. More trust, more flexibility with the limits.
3. Allow for more freedom with increased responsibility.
We want to raise responsible kids.We want kids who are accountable for their actions and interactions. The only way responsibility is encouraged is through increased freedom and ownership. The only way parents feel comfortable increasing freedom is when responsibility and trust are demonstrated. It all goes together. Talk with your child about where you can start allowing for more freedom and increased responsibility. They will most likely have a few ideas!
4. Morph from controller to consultant.
Rather than managing the child’s life–hand the reigns over (where appropriate) to the child and instead put on your consultant hat. All the good ideas a controller has, take those ideas and turn them into questions. “What is your plan?” “Would you like some help?” Get your child thinking and avoid micromanaging. The risk of continuing on in the controller mode is that the child will rebel or he may end up lacking confidence in his ability to do life.
5. Transition from chum to coach.
The highly relational chum approach needs to let go a bit. Encourage and support without horning in on everything. The potential danger of maintaining the chum approach is that eventually the child will come to resent the parent.
Our kids will let us know when a new dance is needed. “I’m not a baby.” “I’m almost an adult.” “I can do it myself.” Listen for those cues.
Our kids will always want more freedom then we are ready to give and we always want more control or interaction than they need. Find the best dance for you and your child. Then…when your next kiddo enters the second decade, you will need to create a unique dance with and for him.
The parenting dance is fluid. We have no choice but to go with the flow of the child’s grow.
Here are a few related posts you may enjoy:
7 Effective Ways to Respond to Your Teen
Licensed parent and family educator, co-founder of 1Corinthians13Parenting.com, co-author of 3 parenting books (with her 1st solo endeavor to be published in May 2017 Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home), mom of four (plus one daughter-in-love), wife to Tom, Contact Lori for your next event. She is also available for parent consulting and parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at MOMS Together community on Facebook.
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.