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Moms Who Have Raised Teens....Best Practices/Wish You've Done Different/Etc.

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So, it's kind of a spin off from Scarlett's thread, but also just a kind of....ugh....I'm muddling my way through life with a 13 year old and would love advice of those who've made it through to the other side. :)

 

What are the things you think you did wrong.... things you think you did right...regarding raising teens...

Can be any topic...

 

In general

 

Discipline/Consequences/What Worked/Didn't

 

Dating/Friends

 

Alcohol/Drugs/etc.

 

Electronics

School

 

Career/Passions

 

Values/Spirituality

 

Difficult kids

 

Mental health issues

 

Etc.

 

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1.   when one was super emotionally volatile, i wouldn't have thought it was in the range of normal hormonal teen, and taken her in to get checked out.  granted - I'm 99.99% sure my ped wouldn't have found that her adrenals are totally messed up, or anything else physiological that was causing all of this.  not even adult drs found anything that was helpful. however,  putting her on the same cocktail as her aspie (with odd, ocd, and add,) youngest brother's ND put him on . . . she's human after all.  (she can afford to buy her own.)

2.  would have told dh - I don't care if you were a boy once -  we're raising boys my way, and not deferred to him.

 

best things . . . .

listen to what they are saying

spend time

listen to what they mean behind the words they are saying

do fun things

listen to what they really need

make sure they get enough sleep

listen to how they are different from their siblings - and that's ok

 

I like who my kids are as adults.  some have had struggles, but moving past in a positive way.

 

because I came from such a screwed up "you will fight each other for grandmamma's approbation (never dispensed) because that is the only thing that matters in life"  background**, the most important thing to me with my own children was they would always know they were loved and cherished no matter what - and they would never have to compete against each other.  and protected against such toxic people.

 

**and to think my mother could never understand why her children don't like each other.  on a *good* day!

 

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I'm just here to represent all the experienced mothers who are reading this thread, thinking thoughts like...

 

1. What an important and timely topic.

 

2. The best thing we can do for each other as parents is to share our wisdom, laugh and cry together...

 

3. only there's just SO much that I've blocked, for my own sanity's sake,

 

4. which I feel pretty durn guilty about doing, because I'm not actually done raising children and should probably pay more attention.

 

5. I don't know, though, maybe I paid TOO much attention to his big brothers, and brought some of the trouble upon myself? Maybe we're both better off if I am more relaxed this time around?

 

6. Hmm...maybe the fact that the older ones are OK means that I know what I'm doing, generally. I'm a genius and a goddess and all my decisions are correct. Yes, let's go with that.

 

7. Or more likely, like most parents I did the best I could, and any mistakes OR genius moves I made, seem to have averaged out, and the kids are OK in spite of me as much as because of me.

 

8. My SIL once said to her daughter, in front of God and everybody, "You turned out so well because I homeschooled you and poured so much of myself into you, and shaped you into the person you are today. You have me to thank." I took two steps back because I thought lightning might strike or something. I was genuinely shocked at her confidence, and thought it was surely misplaced. Everyone has a village. And the children themselves have choices to make.

 

To me, raising children is like going on a very long and dangerous journey. If you're all still together (and speaking to each other) at the end, it was a GOOD journey. Best not to examine the murky places too closely, nor take too much personal credit for the bridges that weren't washed out or the cyclone that never hit.

 

Edited: when I say "together at the end," I mean to include those who have lost a parent or a child, because that happens sometimes. It doesn't mean the love's any less, or that the connection is gone. There are families who go through loss with a deeper, stronger relationship than some others who get many more years living side by side without ever becoming that real in each other's hearts. I thought about this when I almost lost my grown son, that the journey had still been good whatever happened next.

Edited by Tibbie Dunbar
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I wish I'd worked out serious organizational routines by age nine and kept them up through the high school years. My oldest would not take direction through adolescence, however if we'd established something ahead he might have been able to keep up. We definitely could have used some hygiene routines too.

Oldest is 2E and has multiple issues that affect family functioning as a unit. Issues were such that every vacation and holiday were planned revolving around how he might react. I wish I stopped trying to look like other families and started separate vacations with my younger kids earlier. It was bad for oldest to be so stressed and bad for the others to be subjected to his stress. It's not like we can afford blow out trips to Europe--we go camping on the beach. Doing this is just a recognition that each person in the family is an individual and has different needs.

I'm glad we supported a variety of activities. Dh disagrees.., BTW. While nothing really stuck, I believe ds needed to try.

I required be physical activity of all my DC. I wish I had specified minimum hours. There were weeks ds only participated once a week. He was sooooo much better to be around after heavy physical activity. We'd have brief periods of pleasant conversation.

Oldest got a cell phone at 13. It was necessary. It was not a smart phone. We put off smart phone until he was 19. In doing so I believe we avoided some big behavior problems related to phone use. Not every kid has a problem, but I know this kid would have.

We didn't have an Xbox or PlayStation. We had a Wii with a few basic games. Ds hated this immensely. Part of the our reason was that younger DS could not be exposed to certain violent games. I'm glad we did this. With oldest a different gaming system would have caused some problems for oldest's behavior.

Edited by Diana P.
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Good things:

  1. Keeping communication open and non-judgmental. I may have concerns, but those don't get aired in the moment when ds is opening up about something important. That waits for another time.
  2. Giving him space to grow.  His interests aren't always ours, but we do our best to encourage growth and explore potential. 
  3. Practicing what we preach. 
  4. No bullshit. No lies. Ever.

Things that aren't so great:

  1. Modeling behaviours I never wanted to see in my kid.  Specifically, obsessive perfectionism.  I never expected or asked it of him, but seeing it in me has elicited this in him.  It's a tough one to get over, too.
  2. Trying to shield the difficult parts of our lives from him.  Kids know.  They always know.  Hiding it from them just makes them more anxious.  Hence, number 4 above.  Lesson learned the hard way.
  3. This goes back to communication.  Yes, the open communication is good, but there have been times I heard things I didn't want to hear.  I have had to admit to myself that I have felt disappointed in my kid a few times and that's something I have to work on myself.  It's hard.  I never expected to feel that way.  I feel like I've failed him by feeling that way.  I wish I'd been better prepared for these years. 
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My oldest is a few months shy of being an adult, but I think the best thing I did was listen to all the Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh/Nintendo prattle. Hours and hours of it, until I felt ready to scream.

Eventually that nonsense fell away, but he kept talking. He talked about girls. He talked about tricky friend situations. He talked about school. He talked about moral problems. My kid TALKED. I never would have had even a quarter of those conversations with my parents. And he's turning out to be a really cool person: level headed, kind, and smart with a wicked sense of humor.

 

Probably the worst was not knowing what age appropriate expectations were. A 13yo can seem so big, you know? And I think we would have had a much better two years if I didn't feel like he was intentionally failing at everything, even the absurdly simple stuff. He was being a young teen, not a vision of the rest of his life.

Definitely participating in discussions about stuff I found absolutely meaningless when oldest was young meant he kept talking more later.

 

I remember my mother making it clear she didn't want to listen to me when I was 10 or 11. I didn't talk to my parents from adolescence on. I don't talk to them much even today. They missed out.

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I can't really answer this. 

 

I don't see causation a lot of the time - you know, I did X and child grew up to do Y. 

 

 

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My oldest is a few months shy of being an adult, but I think the best thing I did was listen to all the Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh/Nintendo prattle. Hours and hours of it, until I felt ready to scream.

Eventually that nonsense fell away, but he kept talking. He talked about girls. He talked about tricky friend situations. He talked about school. He talked about moral problems. My kid TALKED. I never would have had even a quarter of those conversations with my parents. And he's turning out to be a really cool person: level headed, kind, and smart with a wicked sense of humor.

.

Exactly why I'm listening to Rubiks Cube algorithm talk until my ears bleed. Hoping it will pay off!!

 

My oldest is only 14, so I'm no expert. But the thing I feel worst about all the time is that I'm too much of a giant sponge. Too often I absorb all of DD's bad moods and hormonal rantings and allow them to drag me down instead of letting them bounce off and remaining calm and rational.

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Treating each teen as a distinct individual was huge for me. None of my three kids are the same. They all have different wants/ needs and I tried to accommodate them while keeping in mind that teens do need to start thinking about meeting their own wants/ needs. 

 

I tried very hard not to discipline my kids too much as teens, but not rescue them from natural consequences of their actions. As teens those consequences are often bigger than they are for small children so the consequences of bad behavior for young children, so I didn't try to highlight them, but help them learn from mistakes as they went. My youngest was "grounded" for four months over the summer due to the fact that she would not be trustworthy in public when unsupervised. She still spent the night with friends who had parents who supervise, but she didn't have much of a summer. That is the hardest thing I have done, but I was trying to keep her safe. For legal reasons I can't say what she did, but no one on the board would disagree with our supervision considering what she did. 

 

I shouldn't have ever let HALO in the house. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have let the Xbox in the house. It was not good for my ds. Also, some games online were not good for him either, but he later suffered the consequences of putting those games before school work and he self corrected when it was his college money wasted. But, again, it's easier to keep it out of the house than limit it when it's there. 

 

We invested money in what they were interested in. The oldest was interested in church activities. We spent a bundle on mission trips and her church drama performances and if you count all the work I missed driving her to church things we spent more on her than any other kid. DS is an Eagle Scout. Youngest dd is performance oriented. Piano and voice lessons as well as theater camp and community theater. Now she is into competitive cheer leading. It makes her super happy. I personally would think this is a stupid waste of time and money, but it is important to her, she is doing well, and so I'm investing in her. 

 

My older two kids had crushes that were not real relationships. My youngest had a smart, athletic, popular boy fall head over heels in love with her. She broke up with him even though he was perfect in many ways and it has been a hard, hard year. No other boys expressed any interest in her after she dumped the best guy ever. Only one wildly unsuitable boy liked her and I stayed out of it even though he wasn't good enough. She is beautiful and unapproachable, which helps and hurts. It brings the weirdos out for sure. She's only 17, I'm trying to keep her safe. 

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One thing we did was not have many hard and fast rules. There was no dating age, driving age, curfew, etc. every situation was evaluated individually which generally ended up a negotiation in which a teen got a bit of what he wanted while the parents were still comfortable. While I was often glad not to be painted in a corner by a rule or precedent, this approach is tiring! Instead of just saying no and falling back on a rule each instance required thought and discussion. Some days I was overwhelmed by it but it really was worth it. Teens and the situations they get in just are not one size fits all. I feel like working through all the issues was relationship and trust building.

 

Parenting teens is messy. As parents we need to assume most other parents are doing their best and extend alot of grace all around. To each other, our kids, and ourselves.

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re: listening.   I used to say up until all hours waiting for 2ds to come home. he thought I was up to be up.   it was a big thing when he understood I was up becasue that is when he would talk. and I'd listen.

 

x-box out of the house can be really good.  I had one that built up some serious resentment because we wouldn't get one. it was erecting walls, and I'm not sure they'd have come down if we hadn't finally gotten one.   personality really is everything.  we couldn't afford it at the time - but dh won one as a door prize at I don't remember where.

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Maintaining a sense of humor seems to be getting me through current teen's years. Wish I had gotren counseling much earlier for two of my kids. Time doesnt heal all wounds. Most anger,and rebellion, IME, comes from wounds, not malice.

Don't take a lot personally, don't react to every slight, don't demand perfectly respectful behavoir all the time. IOW, allow your teen to be human, vent, and screw up.

This is a mix of what I wish I had done and what I am doing with the last one.

Oh, and I try to be hone right after school bc that is prime talking time. Ymmv, esp if you are homeschooling, but if you send your kiddo to regular school,I have just found a huge difference in how much my teen will talk first thing when she gets home vs even half an hour later.

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Mine aren't all "done" yet, but there are definitely things I'm glad we've done.  They are age 20, 16, and 16.

 

We talk and talk and talk.  I don't think my kids are afraid to talk to me about anything.  My 20 year old DOES talk to me about everything.  (Even things I don't want to hear, sometimes) They know that they can come to me, and even though I may get mad, it blows over quickly and I have their back.  

 

We make them laugh.  We are goofy, joke around, and are kind of weird.  Makes life a little sweeter.

 

We gave them freedom.  Dh and I both moved out at early ages (16 and 17, in fact).  I figure that most of the moral shaping (for lack of a better word) is done long before they reach 15 or 16.  After that, we gave them space to stretch their wings, while they still have a safe place to land.  We've let them know that they have our trust, until they prove otherwise, and trust comes with freedom to make their own choices, and do their own thing.  

We gave them some clear boundaries that had clear reasons behind them:  Don't lie.  Be kind.  Take care of your things.  We tried to explain why we did things the way we did, and we also tried to not just say no by default.  

 

We let them be themselves.

We raised them while keeping in mind that we were raising future adults, not just cute kids.  


Some things I wish we'd done better?

I wish we'd been more active as a family, and encouraged the outdoors more.  

I wish I had followed my gut, and homeschooled from the very beginning.  

I wish I'd had help in the early years, as I spent the first 5-6 years of parenthood being a very stressed out momma.  

I wish I'd spotted some of the anxiety issues my oldest has sooner.  (hindsight is 20/20, you know)

 

Like Tibbie said upthread, though, these kids are good kids, not because of our parenting, but probably in spite of it..lol.  We've had our problems, and we'll likely have more before it is all said and done.  But my kids have been pretty easy in the grand scheme of things.  They are who they are.  

 

Edited by The Girls' Mom
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Nothing matters more than the relationship.  Nothing.  That's the hill to die on.  Everything else that I have encountered was manageable if the relationship was at the forefront.

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Listen. If it's a heated discussion, listen to their points of view and then present yours. It helps to be heard even if the teen doesn't change your mind.

 

Always assume the best of your kids. If something pos out that's disrespectful, assume they didn't mean it that way and give them do overs cheerfully. Whoops kiddo, that came out wrong do you want to rephrase?

 

If your kids hard, it's not your fault, really. Some kids are hard. Likewise if your child is easy, lucky you but it's not all you either.

 

I'll keep thinking. I had a very hard kid and she's delightful now.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Oh, I thought of another one:  don't take their moods personally.  I know some parents that take every cross look or smart remark as a personal attack. It doesn't work out well, and seriously damages relationships.  This one is hard sometimes.  I have to check myself a LOT.

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My teens are 18 and 16. Most of what I wish I did differently revolve around the 18 year old.

 

1. I wish we did more fun things. I did what I could on our limited budget but I wish it was more.

 

2. Therapy. I wish I had taken him to counseling when his father first got sick. He always seemed to be handling everything so well. I know now he internalized a lot and never dealt with it.

 

3. I wish I had noticed his executive function issues before his junior year of high school and been able to help him develop a system that worked before he left for college.

 

4. Some days, I wish we had said okay to him going back to school for high school.

 

Things I did pretty okay at:

He does talk to me, eventually. I may not find out before he makes a less then stellar decision but he eventually opens up.

 

With my 16 year old:

1. More fun things. See above

2. Therapy. See above

 

Things I did pretty okay at:

She usually talks to me about everything. Sometimes before the less then stellar decision is made.

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One minor thing we did was tell the kids that if they ever got in a situation that wasn't good they could call us to come get them....Day or night, no questions. They could even blame us and rant and rave over the phone about how lean we were to make them come home, etc. Even if they called us first.

 

We have only had to do that twice but we're glad we made that an option when things went south.

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Good:

 

1. Hovering and helicoptering. A teen will not have sex or try drugs with mom in the room. It also meant I was there at every practice, every moment of success, every disappointment.

2. Homeschool with religious material that aligned with family values.

3. Set the standards very high in all aspects of life.

4. Fortunately, having enough money to give them the tools needed for their interests.

5. Never be their friend.

6. Require a monster schedule which includes at least one competitive sport, one instrument, and one fine art.

7. Require a healthy weight, and certain appearance.

 

Bad:

 

1. I wish I could control anger better, but this applies to all circumstances, not just raising teens.

2. My kids will most likely never live nearby since I like small towns in hot climates.

 

Outcome: First kid is now an ER physician after being chief resident of an entire hospital with multiple residency programs. He was a state champion soccer player. Second kid is only 16. She graduated high school at age 15, has been accepted to her first choice college, is a grand national champion dancer, and is the youngest ever to partner with a very large computer company.

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The only thing I try to do every day is to love them for who they are. They get enough messages telling them to be better, prettier, smarter, cooler, more organized, etc. I try to treat them like I wished I had been treated as a teen. 

 

And, I really, really believe that good teens/difficult teens are a matter of luck. You didn't cause it either way. 

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putting her on the same cocktail as her aspie (with odd, ocd, and add,) youngest brother's ND put him on . . . she's human after all.  (she can afford to buy her own.

 

on a *good* day!

What is the cocktail?

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Other people have noted but it bears repeating that some kids are just hard. Some just have to learn everything the hard way or go through the difficult things that others have the wisdom to avoid. You can do everything right and still have your kid get into all sorts of jams. That is where I think the relationship comes in. If you have a good relationship when they pull themselves together you are still a family unit. If the relationship is toast there is no where to go when the teen does mature or want to straighten up.

 

My kids were in middle school when I realized that there was no formula for turning out the perfect kid. That was a harsh reality but one I am glad I learned earlier than high school.

 

I really believe in letting them have more autonomy in the teen years than many homeschool parents. It is uncomfortable!

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:lurk5:

 

my oldest is just about to enter the teen years, trying to soak up the wisdom :)  We had pretty decent parents ourselves and hope to follow in their footsteps the best we can. Things they did that we appreciated:

 

1) Making our house the place to hang out, feeding our friends, providing things to do, and being a sympathetic/non-judgmental ear. So, we were generally around them and they knew our friends.

2)keeping an open ear so we could talk to the them about concerns without fear, they definitely had the policy of no matter what call us if you need us.

 

What I wish they had done better:

1) Discussed sex etc more openly- I wish I had been given accurate info from them before hearing all the crap that teenagers ignorantly spew. While they told e things were open and I  did go to them about some things their reluctance to talk about sex drove home the fact that it was a bit taboo

2) In line with talking about sex more I wish they would have been more, not controlling really, but when a 16yo(skeezo) guy wants to go out with a 13yo girl it is generally not a good thing. I don't know that it would have changed things but I was thinking you let me go into this crap situation without a word about the stupidity, they probably thought it was pointless. 

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I'll just say too that although my parents were very encouraging they never made me feel my love was conditionally based on what I accomplished or did, that is worth a whole lot. It was a lot more important what kind of person i was/am, success is not based primarily on a paycheck and prestige but how one lives out their values.

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I think the best thing I did was realize that I cannot control them. Starting in middle school I explained in detail the reason for every decision I made and had them try to compromise with me on decisions they didn't like. I wanted them to get in the habit of thinking things through. I also encouraged them to fail. Life is hard, things you can't control happen, and I wanted to make sure they could handle it and not be afraid of striving for the difficult. Then I stepped back and let them figure it out. I was always there to hug them and listen to them without judgement. The hardest part was not giving advice or trying to fix things when they spoke to me about their difficulties. I only did so when they asked for it.

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Ages 22, 18 and about to turn 14.

 

 

Nothing matters more than the relationship.  Nothing.  That's the hill to die on.  Everything else that I have encountered was manageable if the relationship was at the forefront.

 

 

That's the hill to die on, and also that's the frame for everything else, about open communication pipes and listening to even-the-tedious and finding things to do together and laugh about and navigating the parental pain when older kids (inevitably!! because they have autonomy and agency!!) make different choices about things we care about deeply and

 

blah, blah, blah.

 

It also gives direction on which kid is the one to spend time with, and what kind of time.  My kids are spaced far enough apart, and are different enough in terms of disposition, that for the last decade or so there's always been one who's been a bit of a PITA and at least one who's a delight to be with.  The roles have rotated but that basic pattern has held pretty consistently.  

 

And tempting though it may be to go walk on a long walk, or sit down with a pot of tea, with the pleasant one, while the PITA cloisters in a back room with headphones... that's not the right answer, ever.

 

 

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Mine are 20, 18, 16, and 13. Agreeing about relationship. It all comes down to that. Also, agreeing about giving more freedom and making decisions on their own while still young. They can lose that freedom by their actions- but I don't try to control them as much. I have taken to heart Chikdren are born persons- and as much as I want to say "yea I did it!" I know it is only by the grace of God that my kids are doing so well. That leads me to my last- most important for me- pray for your children.

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I LOVE this thread too.

 

I started a similar thread several months ago, and one mom said, "I wish I had my teens learn self defense." Totally stayed with me so we're signing our boys up for Krav Maga. They have a deal on right now. It's an expensive thing (without the deal), but I want my boys to have some idea about trusting their gut and learning to get out of dicey situations.

 

Alley

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Listen. If it's a heated discussion, listen to their points of view and then present yours. It helps to be heard even if the teen doesn't change your mind.

 

Always assume the best of your kids. If something pos out that's disrespectful, assume they didn't mean it that way and give them do overs cheerfully. Whoops kiddo, that came out wrong do you want to rephrase?

 

If your kids hard, it's not your fault, really. Some kids are hard. Likewise if your child is easy, lucky you but it's not all you either.

 

I'll keep thinking. I had a very hard kid and she's delightful now.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Lots of truth here.  I have both hard and easy ones.  My husband and I were the same parents.

 

One thing I am glad I did was listen when they wanted to talk.  It wasn't all the time, but of course it happened when it really wasn't convenient.  I remember one night when it was almost 3 a.m. and I'd been up since 6 a.m., but my youngest just had a lot to say so I was listening.  You can't get  back those moments.  It's happened a few times here and there, usually in the middle of the night. 

 

One thing I wish I had done more is SHUT UP.  I'm not good at this and every thought I have spills out or at least shows on my face.  As my kids reach adulthood, I'm more and more in awe of my mother.  How the heck did she do it?    If I could have perfected the impassive face, no matter what I heard, it would have served me well. 

 

Editing: Praying with and for our children is so important.  We still pray together when we are together.  It is something that goes with them, and regularly I get some call or text to pray about something. 

Edited by TranquilMind
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Exactly why I'm listening to Rubiks Cube algorithm talk until my ears bleed. Hoping it will pay off!!

 

I have heard the exact same Rubiks algorithm talk over and over as well. It's... oh gosh. Let him as an adult one day say I listened!

 

I like these threads, even though I kind of agree with Sadie that it's hard to find causation a lot of the time. Sometimes we get the kids we get.

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I have heard the exact same Rubiks algorithm talk over and over as well. It's... oh gosh. Let him as an adult one day say I listened!

 

I like these threads, even though I kind of agree with Sadie that it's hard to find causation a lot of the time. Sometimes we get the kids we get.

 

The longer I parent, the less I think the details matter.

 

Obviously the big stuff matters, whether your child is fed adequately, and clothed and sheltered, and whether they are abused or not and whether someone is available to listen and encourage, and whether they are educated to a point where they can educate themselves and whether they receive medical care when required...

 

But beyond that ? Does what we do matter ? I know why we want to think it matters...because we spend so much darn time on it. 

 

I think it matters a little bit. It's the icing on the cake. But given the basics, a lot of what we worry over, and believe in, and plan for and exert effort for - it's all a crapshoot. Genetics, personality traits and environment seem to play such a large role in how our teens 'turn out'. 

 

Not that they ever do 'turn out'. We were all teens once. Do we all feel 'turned out' ? Like we arrived at some point of adulthood where we were done with growth and change and challenge ?

 

I would say to the OP that what might matter more than how you raise your 13 year old - the many daily decisions you will take about your parenting - is how you raise yourself...how you do self care, how you nurture your own life, how you make those decisions in a context that honors you not just as someone's mom, but as another human equally struggling and striving as one's teens. 

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In general

 

Discipline/Consequences/What Worked/Didn't

 

Dating/Friends

 

Alcohol/Drugs/etc.

 

Electronics

School

 

Career/Passions

 

Values/Spirituality

 

Difficult kids

 

Mental health issues

 

Etc.

 

Well, I'm not all finished yet, but so far, I am very happy with my teens' development, behavior, outlook and our relationships with each other. Truly, I think some of it is dumb luck and/or a good mesh of personalities, but I like to think we did a few things well, too.

 

In general, I have always striven to communicate love and acceptance to my children just as they are. I have high standards, yet I support them in being the best they can be from where they are. I have also kept in mind that I am raising future adults, real human beings. I don't baby them and I give them opportunities to rise. I think of the fact that western society keeps children dependant for a biologically abnormally long time; that a 17-year-old male in many cultures presently and historically was a full-grown, independant man and probably a father. So, with that in mind, I seek to expect adult intelligence from them at ages that others still see them as "just kids." (No, this doesn't mean I want them to get married or have babies ahead of the cultural norm! :) Just that I expect them to behave like competant adults and not follish little babies who can't handle anything.)

 

Discipline falls along with this same mentality. I don't dole out punishments as if they are still little kids who can't understand expectations. My teens have not been punished in the traditional sense. If there is a problem, we're going to work through that problem. It would no sooner occur to me to dole out a punishment of my 17 or 19 yo than it would to punish DH for forgetting to call the insurance company. It could be that my kids simply don't rebel or sneak or behave like jerks, so maybe again I am just lucky. But I don't think it is that so much as the nature of our relationships. We are like close friends, with a mentor aspect to it. They don't break a lot of rules, but we don't have a lot of rules beyond just not being a jerk.

 

I could surely say more here, but this is already long and I am short on time. :)

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This video came across my newsfeed today and I think it is excellent food for thought.

 

https://www.facebook.com/deltaprotective/videos/10157890106040640/?autoplay_reason=all_page_organic_allowed&video_container_type=0&video_creator_product_type=2&app_id=2392950137&live_video_guests=0

 

The gist of it is that millennials are having a difficult time in the workplace due to "bad parenting" by family and teachers, technology, impatience, and environment. What I see with my own 21 year old is that I think we did the parenting bit OK, but I see how much technology and it's reach have affected her life during these formative years. If I could go back, I would never have gotten her a smartphone or a tablet.

 

I do think it's kind of hilarious that on one hand he blames parents and teachers for raising kids to not fail, giving out participation trophies, handing out unearned A's, etc. but then he keeps saying that millennials are fantastic kids who were dealt a bad hand and none of this is their fault. So even he isn't willing to hold them responsible for their choices.

 

HOWEVER, even with that little complaint, I think his message is sound - kids are growing up in a world where they are not really learning all of the soft skills that the working world expects. It is very, very hard to see your child stuck to their phone while avoiding responsibilities and frankly avoiding things that would make them a more well-rounded person. It is hard to try to have a conversation that doesn't involve something they saw online (and realize that they can't do it). It is hard to say no, you cannot wash your clothes her parents' home because you need to figure out how to load your laundry card at your apartment, and then discover a month later that the child has still not dealt with the card and has not done laundry in that time.

 

My husband has been in the army for 15 years, and he has seen the impact that cell phones & social media have had on camaraderie. Back in the old days, guys would talk to each other during their down time (lots of time waiting in the military!) and they really got to know each other and gel as a unit. Nowadays, the soldiers get on their phones the minute they have down time and each is in his own little world.

 

My two younger kids have technology and social media, but they don't use it for peer interaction. They aren't getting those messages that everyone else has a great life and theirs is the only one that's tough. They have lots of family time and we try to keep them balanced with other interests. I hope it's enough.

 

Maybe I'll fashion some sort of technology charging station in an out-of-the-way area and relegate all tech to it while we have dedicated family time. Dh and I are good about leaving tech in our bedroom but it's probably a good thing to start using.

Edited by ondreeuh
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Nothing matters more than the relationship. Nothing. That's the hill to die on. Everything else that I have encountered was manageable if the relationship was at the forefront.

I wish I could like this twice! This is it, right here.

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One small thing I have done and will continue to do with my

younger kids is just let them take on as much administrative business as possible. Mine fill out their own medical forms, etc as much as possible. I am available for questions but I have them practice those things. Seems silly but it is good practice and I think it builds confidence. I let mine take themselves to appointments (our clinic will treat at 16 yo with a note). I am always available to jump in if needed but I let them take their first stab at handling things.

 

I let my 16 yo sign up for a gym membership himself. We talked about it before hand but then I let him handle it. If something had gone wrong I would have helped him unravel it too. When the boys have had car incidents we have involved them in the process of resolving them. They do dual enrollment and I let them handle the registration, book buying, etc. I am always available for questions and support but I let them handle a lot of business. People are shocked that my older teens schedule their own dental appointments, etc. but I think it builds confidence in them. They learn that they are capable and that parents are available for consult. I do not chastise when a mistake is made. Always learning!

 

It is amazing how much they grow as young adults when we let them.

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All these suggestions to be sure to listen are very helpful for me. My kids are preschoolers now and while they are sweet thoughtful, and even witty at times, it can be hard to keep listening as it just keeps going and going. Thank you for the reminder that even though the details of their latest make-believe adventure may not matter, listening does.

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All these suggestions to be sure to listen are very helpful for me. My kids are preschoolers now and while they are sweet thoughtful, and even witty at times, it can be hard to keep listening as it just keeps going and going. Thank you for the reminder that even though the details of their latest make-believe adventure may not matter, listening does.

Ditto for the late elementary set.

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My oldest is a few months shy of being an adult, but I think the best thing I did was listen to all the Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh/Nintendo prattle.  Hours and hours of it, until I felt ready to scream.

Eventually that nonsense fell away, but he kept talking.  He talked about girls.  He talked about tricky friend situations.  He talked about school.  He talked about moral problems.  My kid TALKED.  I never would have had even a quarter of those conversations with my parents.  And he's turning out to be a really cool person: level headed, kind, and smart with a wicked sense of humor.

 

Probably the worst was not knowing what age appropriate expectations were.  A 13yo can seem so big, you know?  And I think we would have had a much better two years if I didn't feel like he was intentionally failing at everything, even the absurdly simple stuff.  He was being a young teen, not a vision of the rest of his life.

 

That's great advice, because my 11 and 8 year olds love to talk endlessly about what I consider nonsense (largely of the minecraft and/or warrior cats variety) and I am very tempted many times every day to say "No More!"

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My older children are 22, 20 and 18.

 

What is important- relationship, relationship, relationship....every art project we did together, every series we binge watched, every board game, every read aloud are just like money in the bank. These are the things that carry us over the bumps and bends of these transitional years.

 

Also honesty- when I ask my kids a question, they sometimes answer, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me." I ask them if they will tell me when they are 45 years old. "Nope, I'm taking it to the grave." I respect their privacy. I don't set them up so that they have no choice but to lie to me.

 

Letting go- 20 year old is across the country with a shattered elbow. I got a text that he was at the drugstore, but Roommate could have him call me when he returned. I said, "Thanks for the update. He only needs to calls if he feels like it." So hard to let go, but so necessary.

 

Acceptance- I spent their childhoods teaching them what I believe and what I think they need to know. Now, that they are adults, I promise to learn what they think is valuable and to love who they love.

 

What I wish I had done better- not taking their moods personally. Why is that so difficult?

 

My adult children are so enjoyable and loving and funny and smart and successful and creative....mostly in spite of my parenting.

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I typed out something earlier and deleted it all. I was blessed with an easy kid for the most part. What I did right? I don't know, recognizing every step of his development, appreciating him for who he was/is becoming, and listened a lot. I'm still listening, this semester it has been about math and fountain pens. 

 

Letting him step into the world while he knows I got his back. Pushing when needed, protecting when necessary, and always letting him know I love him, not just because we're related, but because he's a pretty cool person.

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1. Hovering and helicoptering. A teen will not have sex or try drugs with mom in the room. It also meant I was there at every practice, every moment of success, every disappointment.

 

Ymmv and all that. I am confident that there are as many ways of raising children as there are families. I'm sure there are also adults whose parents parented this way and were able to maintain a healthy relationship with their adult children.

 

That being said, word of warning from the "other side" so to speak. Dh's parents absolutely did this. His mother will continue to crow about this even now. He wishes his parents had been there less often and helicoptered less. Even with her helicoptering, there were still plenty of opportunities to have done drugs, drank alcohol, and had sex. That he chose not to had nothing to do with her helicoptering. It's a shame she's never been able to see that - never been able to see the mature and responsible young adult that he was and the mature, responsible adult that he became.

 

It absolutely has damaged their relationship long term. He does not look back on his childhood - especially his high school years - with fondness. It has ruined his relationship with his parents. We live several states away and he sees them once a year. They see our children once a year and do not text message, call, or email our children.

 

It's incredibly sad. They have missed so much.

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Give more hugs. Even when they are so *&^%ing annoying/frustrating/aggravating that you can't stand the site of them,

 

GIVE MORE HUGS.

 

I screwed this up and, now that he's 21, I'm trying to repair it before he moves out/on...

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Our number 1 change between the oldest and the rest of the kids is we will not give a kid a smartphone. My oldest is absolutely addicted, to the point that it has severely impacted her life. When we realized just how bad it was, we took back the phone (that we paid for) and told her we would only fund a dumb phone. This year she's been working (not going to school, because her grades were so bad that she lost her scholarships). She has been so much healthier mentally. However, she saved up her money and just bought herself a smartphone and her own plan and she's almost immediately back to where she was. It's hard to watch.

 

Our other kids will never, ever have a smart phone funded by us. My 14yo says it's hard sometimes because it cuts him off from a whole world of socialization with his friends. I feel for him. At the same time, he sees just how addicted some of his friends are to their phones. He gets it, even if he doesn't like it.

 

Navigating this new world of tech and parenting has been tough. There's no precedent. We can't learn from the past!

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They tell me the best things that I've done for them are:

 

Giving them freedom to make their own choices and mistakes.  I trust my kids; I do not hover.  

 

Encouraging a love of learning.  Listening to their passions and being their best cheerleader. When they express an interest, I find many opportunities to explore them.

 

Talking and talking.  About beauty and love and tolerance.  

 

 

Things I would change:

 

Requiring that my oldest get a job when he turned 16.  

 

 

Edited by lisabees
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