Parenting teens? Sometimes you need to get creative

How often have you thought or said: "This is how my parents raised me, and I turned out just fine!”

parenting teens

Parenting teens can be frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be.

As we close the month of blogging about teens, I am compelled to address something that for me can best be described as irksome! (Caution: rant ahead)  Over the past 20 years, I have trained in dozens of schools and organizations that serve teenagers across the country.

And, throughout these years there is one retort that I have come to expect, but it continues to ruffle me nonetheless.

The Parenting teens trap

  • While introducing strategies during a live presentation there is almost always one participant in the group who feels compelled to stand and inform all in the room:
  • “My parents didn’t do anything like ‘this’ and, look at me!  I turned out JUST FINE!”
  • “Yes, I was taught responsibility by the end of a BELT, but I turned out just fine!”
  • “My parents never read ONE book about how to parent, and I turned out just fine!”
  • “My parents were too busy making a living to have time to do things WITH me, and I turned out just fine!”

While I do understand the psychology behind this perception, I will admit I continue to find it a bit exhausting.

Really? Is there any parent who upon first experiencing the miracle of birth gazes at their newborn son or daughter and silently reflects: “It is my greatest hope that this magnificent gift of a child will someday turn out to be…adequate?”

No!  We envision our baby growing to accomplish amazing things, having an extraordinary life, living with dreams and wishes fulfilled. It is our greatest hope as parents that our children grow to be exceptional, isn’t it? So, here is what I have to say in response to those who feel the parenting practices of the past or the ‘status q ’  continue to serve, or for that matter, ever served children and their families.

We at Purposeful Parent invite everyone to move beyond the expectation of ‘just fine.’ We encourage all to investigate options and alternatives to the way things have always been done. I ask you, in what other profession, vocation, career or general ambition, do those who are determined to succeed rely solely on past practice?

Let’s consider aligning our practices with our high expectations then.  Let’s re-examine some of the fear-based strategies of the past. And if we take a closer look at the past three generations, where most disciplinary practices were grounded in fear, ‘just fine’ hasn’t always been so very fine at all.  ‘Just fine’ would more accurately be expressed as, ‘We survived!’

The Purposeful Parent invites us to relinquish the burden of those past practices grounded in fear and defined by trial and error and instead investigate the liberation that comes with tried and true practices based on love.

—Let’s try ‘Parenting from the heart right from the start’  where we rely less on what we fear might happen and more on what we know can happen when we lovingly co-create and trust.

What can we as parents do then to help replace ‘scared but surviving’  with ‘healthy and thriving?’

We can LEARN! LEARN! LEARN! We can make parenting a priority!  We can read, talk, listen and investigate. And no matter the age of our child NOW is the best time to start.   It’s not a matter of doing MORE as a parent or working HARDER.  (You are already doing that!)

It’s about being willing to do some things differently, about letting go of fear.  It’s about making investments now so that we are able to parent with greater ease as our children grow. Parents and teachers, it is time for a grand shift in the paradigm and we need to start by evaluating our own embedded and thus far unchallenged beliefs regarding HOW children grow to be responsible, and happy!

You may be surprised to learn that many of the conventional parenting strategies are responsible for generating the very problems we are attempting to avoid!  The Purposeful Parent is here to help. We make learning how to parent with ease so much easier!

And so this ends our month of ‘tips’ for parents of teens!  But don’t worry, there is always more to share about this fascinating topic. I hope you will continue to read and please feel free to respond with your ideas and experiences on the Racine County Eye Facebook page.

About the author

Kate MartinKate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before

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Denise Lockwood
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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.