As a counselor, I have seen many parents run themselves ragged trying to be “The Perfect Parent” to their teenager. When their efforts fall short and the relationship with their teenager is lacking, many parents can feel frustrated and disappointed. Here are some myth busters of how to be the Perfect Parent.
In order to have a good relationship with my teenager, I need to:
1. Spend every waking moment with my teenager
Somehow there is a lofty thought that a good relationship with teenagers begins with spending all day, every day with them. As if “Perfect Parents” are the ones that spend all of their free time with their teenagers, filling their days shopping at the mall, or working gleefully together in the back yard.
Yes, and no! Spending time with their parents is something that most teenagers really want, and enjoy doing. However, teenagers also crave their independence. It is better to find a time and consistently meet with them, than to try to overcrowd your teenager. As in the end, this can drive a teenager crazy.
2. Have a serious discourse of the philosophy of life every morning.
Mornings can be a difficult time of the day for parents and teenagers. Hurried parents are often trying to get their just woken up teenagers out the door, usually with some sort of half – eaten pastry hanging out of their mouths.
Save the in depth philosophical discussions for a time when there are no distractions. Make the mornings as smooth as possible. For many people, how they start their morning will determine their mood for the remainder of the day.
3. Use every last penny of my paycheck for my teenager’s every whim
Parents want the best for their teenagers, and enjoy being able give their teenagers those gifts and gadgets they did not have during their adolescence. However, sometimes parents can get carried away and over extend themselves financially, while trying to give their teenager the best life possible.
The irony is that most teenagers do not necessarily want a lot of money showered on them. Now don’t get me wrong, most will accept monetary gifts and extravagance. But if a parent is trying to show love by spending money on them, this very well may backfire. Teenagers are quite keen at being able to distinguish between authentic affection and purchased admiration.
4. Know the answers to all of their questions
As a parent, we want to be the “go to person” for our teenager. However, some parents assume filling this position means they have to be the knowledgeable sage for all of life’s problems. As if their inability to give an answer is equivalent to being a failure as a parent.
Horse Hockey! What is a parent to do? Find someone that may know the answer. Being able to point your teenager into the right direction will encourage self determination, and it will show that you are listening and taking their questions seriously.
5. Be the “cool” parent
Many parents attempt to be the “cool” parent that blends into the teenage crowd. They dress the part, listen to the same music as their teenager, and even try to pick up the current slang of the day. While the intention of wanting to connect to the teenage world is noble, often this can result in embarrassment for both you and your teenager.
Instead, just be yourself. This is not to say that as a parent your dress attire cannot be current and contemporary. Nor that you cannot share any similar taste in music or popular culture with your teenager. However, the rule of thumb is authenticity rather than resorting to becoming an adolescent yourself by trying to “fit in.” You would probably find that your teenager’s respect for you is not based in what you wear, but in who you are.