Today’s post is an excerpt from Letitia Suk’s new book 100 Need-to-Know Tips for Moms of Tweens & Teens.
Letitia invites women to chase the intentional life. She writes and speaks of renewal and restoration, offering platters of hope to women in each season of life. Her blend of humor, stories and grace propels audiences towards a fresh experience of God.
Tish is also a retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area and moonlights as a hospital chaplain. You can find her walking by Lake Michigan, browsing resale shops, or making up new traditions. You can find her online at www.letitiasuk.com.
Every mom needs wisdom from those who have walked the journey ahead of her. With that in mind, here are 10 tips every mom of teens or tweens needs to know!
Respond with Enthusiasm. Sometimes the idea component of your teen’s brain seems to be stuck on automatic pilot. “I’m going to start a rock band,” “I want to dye my hair blue.” “I’m thinking about a road trip after high school. “Years of experience has taught me that the best response (unless the idea violates your ethical or moral values) is enthusiasm. That would be fun or what an interesting possibility or tell me more. When your teen has freedom to daydream out loud, they will usually come to wise choices. When at a loss for words, try WOW!
This Too Shall Pass. Remember the drama of sleeping through the night, toilet training, learning to share, and other milestones of the early years? As a mom of young kids, those were my most pressing dilemmas! Wouldn’t you sometimes like to trade one of your current issues with your teen for one of the old ones? Just like those tough bumps in the road of the early years, the stuck points of today will also get resolved. Hold on!
Leave on a Positive Note. When your teen leaves the house for an outing with friends, make a point to say have a good time, you look great, I love you. The last few minutes of your interaction can set the tone for the rest of the evening. If your teen leaves the house feeling good about you and about themselves, they will carry those positive feelings with them. Likewise, if they leave home angry, feeling misunderstood, or belittled, those feelings may shape their evening. If you really want to make a lasting impression, occasionally slip a little unasked-for cash!
Ask Don’t Tell. Just like you, your teen will respond in a much more positive manner when asked to do something rather than told to do it. Consider the difference in tone…Do you think you could pick up your sister? as opposed to… go pick her up. Works the same for household help…could you give me a hand with clearing the table? as opposed to… don’t leave the house without helping with dinner clean-up. While you’re at it, be sure and say please and thank you and listen for how that will come back to you!
Rewind that Conversation. Many of us have been on the both sides of rushed, heated, confrontational, or just “bad attitude” conversations. It may have come from us or be directed to us. A simple way to change the tone is just to ask to re-do it.”Do you think we can start this conversation over” is a good question. When emotion is high, a simple, “Whoa, start over please” is a very effective phrase. Rather than escalating, a rewind usually takes the conversation in a much more positive direction.
Welcome Home. Greetings are important. Business deals and political maneuvers are shaped by the cultural norms for the greeting. Bowing, handshaking, air kissing, hugging all work in different contexts. For your first contact with your teen after school, a warm greeting can set the stage for whatever comes next.If you start with the “towels on the floor” speech, you might lose them for the rest of the night! Your teen probably has a lot of choices of where to stop after school, you want them to be glad they came home!
Get On Line. I once had a three-day argument with my daughter where we never spoke a word. Each day we e-mailed each other our positions on a situation that needed to get resolved. Over the course of the interaction, we both compromised and landed at a good place. I don’t even remember what it was about! I do remember that the technique worked. Although nothing beats face to face for a heart to heart, e-mails can also open up a new level of relationship with teens who “talk” best by typing on a keyboard. (Jill’s note: You might also try a pillow journal!)
Ask your Teen’s Opinion and Advice. A great way to connect with your teen is to ask their opinion about something in your life. Should I wear black or brown shoes with this? Could you take a look at these design ideas and tell me which you think would work best? I’d love to go out to a movie tonight, which one do you recommend? To move deeper ask their advice about something in your life. I’m thinking about going part time, do you have any thoughts on that? My friend seems to be pulling back a bit, has that ever happened to you? Connecting with your teen by asking for their opinion or advice taps into different aspects of the relationship which can be very positive for both of you.
Agree to Disagree. Cubs or Yankees, vegetarian or Keto, Republican or Democrat, there are a lot of different opinions in a family! Some of these opposing views make for friendly teasing, some are closer to the heart. Part of the task of adolescence is to separate from parents and that can include choosing the opposite side of a parent’s position on about anything. This is normal! Give your teen room to think out loud and choose to agree to disagree now so as to have a closer relationship later.
Take a Deep Breath, Say a Prayer and Wait. When confronted with troubling information from your teen, one of the most effective parenting techniques is to wait. Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and wait. Often your teen will feel uncomfortable with the silence and talk more. While sometimes an immediate response is required, most of us could use some time and it’s OK just to say that. “Wow, I need some process time here” or “I’d like to think about this a little while and get back to you.” Usually it is best not to engage when you can’t see where you’re going, and the wait time will bring perspective.
What about you? What’s a tip you could add to this list?
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