My New Year’s resolutions for parenting teens
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but I thought I would embrace change this year. As I reflect back on last year my first thought is, “I survived being a mom to twin teens!” Their fourteenth birthday is in February so this time of year also marks my accomplishment, and yes I view that as an accomplishment.
If I’m honest with myself, I can also admit there is definitely room for some improvement. Since I know that I can only control my behavior, I plan to focus on what I can do differently as a parent. So here’s my list in no particular order (even though I numbered it—I just like numbered lists).
1. I will encourage my twin teens to be more independent.
During their morning routine, I will remain silent without saying, “Hurry up or you will miss the bus!” I will also give them a list of things they are responsible for such as putting away their laundry, cleaning the dishes and packing their lunches.
2. I will allow them to fail.
This is a tough one for me since I often feel this may somehow be a reflection on me being a bad parent. I also struggle with being a perfectionist. But I realize sometimes “failing” is the only way you learn and grow as a person. So when they ask me to bring to school their forgotten homework or other items my answer will be a hard “no.”
3. I will continue to attempt to communicate with them.
This year whenever I tried to ask my teens questions I heard a lot of one word generic responses. When I ask, “How was school today?” often their response is a one word “good” without any other details. After hearing “good” or “nothing” a hundred times, I was tempted to give up trying. But I have been told, by more than one person, I’m tenacious so I tried other methods. I found by asking unusual questions or instead of asking questions I offered information about myself that sometimes I was able to engage in what some may consider a conversation. So I’m going to keep trying because when it works, it’s worth the effort.
4. I’m going to nag less and observe more.
I never enjoy nagging, and it rarely yields the results I want. After reading articles and interviewing experts, I learned that making observational comments or questions is much more effective. My favorite one which even sometimes elicits a chuckle is, “Are you working hard or hardly working?”
5. I’m going to let them know when they are doing a good job.
It’s easy to notice all the things a teen is doing wrong such as leaving their towel on the floor, staying up too late at night, or eating junk food. It’s harder to point out what they are doing right such as how they did their homework, helped their sibling, or cleaned their room. I plan to notice at least once a day what they are doing right and let them know how proud I am of them. Because they are doing a lot of things right and I am really proud of them.
One of the reasons I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions is because often by March people are back to their old ways, their New Year’s Resolutions quickly forgotten. That is why I’m writing it down, so I can reflect on this list and remind myself these goals will help us have a better relationship and hopefully help my teens grow up to be successful adults. And I think that is worth trying something new to achieve it.
Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05