Now that school is out and summer is in full swing, are you concerned about your teens having too much freedom?
Remember back in 2010, when our very own Abby Sunderland attempted to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world? Some called it reckless and accused her parents of child abuse while others applauded her self confidence and sense of adventure.
Parenting is about personal values.
It’s tough to choose between assuring safety and encouraging independence. And there is no one right answer. As they explore their autonomy, letting go can be more difficult than you imagined. If you’re still trying to protect your kids from life’s normal ups and downs, here are some tips that may help:
Remember what it was like growing up. How did your parents encourage you to become more self sufficient? Talk to your teens about their inner strengths and resources. Be there for emotional support but let them discover, make mistakes and learn from them.
Give up old habits of micromanaging. Modern technology makes it too easy to stay connected to your growing kids. But you have to step back sooner or later. When you continue to hover, worry and get involved in issues that demand their attention, you’re giving the message that you don’t trust they can handle it.
Minimize financial assistance. Sure, you need to take care of basic necessities, but let teens take on more responsibility. Insist that they get a part-time job and open a bank account. Times are tough, but babysitting and mowing lawns are still options. Pull back as they develop new time and money management skills.
Teach how to problem solve. Negative feelings are sometimes difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be honesty and a renewed sense of trust. Negotiate curfew and help them learn to cooperate and compromise. Be flexible in resolving family problems as you see the situation from their point of view as well as your own.
Want to know more from a kidult’s perspective? Try to see this summer and beyond as a training ground. It won’t be long before they’re filling out college applications. Instead of overprotecting, teach them how to safely take risks and take care of themselves in the safety of your own home. Isn't your ultimate goal for them to manage on their own anyway?