Well, for what it’s worth, here are ten suggestions for parents to consider:
- Be your child’s parent, not their best friend. They can, and actually prefer, to find their own best friends.
- Think of the word “no” as a love word. Dress it up all you want, with listening, which is a good thing, compassion and consideration, etc. But if your parental gut says it’s not a good idea, say so with a no, explain why and don’t let them wear you down with a thousand “whys.”
- Parenting is not a perfect profession. You will make mistakes. You do the best you can. It’s okay to seek help from other parents too.
- Hint: Children, and especially teens, love limit setting. They thrive on it. I’ve heard a thousand teens oven the years say to pushy friends, “My parents won’t let me go. Sorry.” And down deep, they oftentimes know that mom and dad (or mom, or dad) are right. Second hint: They will not tell you that you were right until they hit their thirties.
- Half of all the teens whose parents bring them to counseling are basically fine. It’s the parents who need to see a therapist. But most therapists will take the teen anyway, if you have insurance. You do the math.
- Sometimes children, sometimes teens, need to be given permission to fail at something. Don’t finish the science project for them. Don’t bail them out with an excuse note every time they whine. Watching a young person move away and upward from a failing venture is breathtaking.
- If you live just for your children, you’re short-changing their potential. Live for yourself, first. Be the best example they ever had.
- Pour your hope for your children into cement. Keep your expectations of your children high, very high, but keep that bar soft and flexible. They need to at least be able to reach it now and then.
- Encourage your children to find their own God, any God, and give them permission to paint their God whatever color they want.
- Try not to lose sight of the fact that growing up is very hard work. We have ex-bosses, ex- wives, ex-husbands, but we never refer to ourselves as “ex-kids.
- Okay, there’s one more, a bonus if you will: Children are beautiful. They are a gift from God.
© Kevin Lee