Yesterday my 8th grader was upset about school. She has been upset about school all year. Part of me wants to be angry (which I was and still am about some issues). Most of me knows this is a learning experience that all of us must go through. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t all puppies and lollypops and unicorns.
These kids know that – they’re reading Hunger Games and Shelter (and girls in my youth were reading nothing more exciting than Little Women). But, life can be difficult and totally and completely unfair for the average 13 year old.
So my point being is that it is so important to TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Yes, that was ALL CAPS and I mean to SHOUT.
So often I hear from my kids “other kids don’t talk with their parents like we do.” I find that baffling at best.
They talk TO their kids. They talk AT their kids. They don’t talk WITH their kids.
Childhood is a time to prepare out children to be adults – especially the teen years. I’ve always thought that THIS is the time you need to spend the most time with your kids. They are now, more than ever learning about the real world and issues they’ll have to face.
They’ll learn that life isn’t fair. They’ll learn that jerks grow up to be jerks. They’ll learn that there are brown- -nosers and teacher’s pets and people who are going to be less than nice. They’ll learn about game players and liars and all of the other people that might end up as their coworkers someday.
But they will also learn that they can make a difference through their actions and words. They’ll meet the best friends they’ll ever have – and still have those friend when they are 100 years old. They’ll be inspired by remarkable teachers (I’m thinking on one History teacher). They’ll be curious. They’ll discover new and wonderful music. They’ll laugh like they invented laughing. And they’ll know joy like no others.
So now it the time to talk to your kids. Now is the time to LISTEN.
In the mornings discuss the news. Find out what their opinions are. Ask your teens “What do YOU think?” Don’t judge their answers. Allow them to TRUST you.
And if they are upset about school or sports or relationships or anything – listen to them. Listen, and ask questions, but don’t judge until you have heard what they have to say. Let them find an answer or come up with an answer together.
Yes, of course there are times when you have to be firm and take charge because YOU ARE THE PARENT. Like when your daughter brings home a freak for a boyfriend (tell her NO) or when your son gets a speeding ticket (show him his bicycle). That is your job. You are allowed to say NO.
Your job is to set limits. But your job is also to guide and discuss issues so your teen will be prepared to make the best decisions they can.
And no subject should be off limits. If you are uncomfortable talking about sex or drugs GET OVER IT. You are doing your child harm by keeping them in the dark. They’ll find answers on the street and more than likely the wrong answers. Allow them to speak with comfort about these issues so YOU will be the one they turn to when they have a question.
Being a parent means teaching your child to be an adult. So your assignment is to keep the lines of communication OPEN so your kid will be the kind of adult you want your child to be – the kind of adult you want to be.