Your life is on a collision course with change. Just when you think things are moving along steadily, and expect they’ll stay that way for a while, something comes out of nowhere to alter your course. A job change. A surprise bill. An illness. There are a host of things that can upset your plans. And that’s just your life. When you’re parenting teens, no day is like the one before. Their plans, needs, and expectations change twice as fast as your own. How is it possible to keep up?
Examine their goals together. Your teenager is on his or her way to independence and with that transformation comes much trial and error. Talk about goals and then examine the fears that come with those goals. Your teenager is not YOU, so ask for specifics of how you can help on the journey. You’ll learn a lot about your child when you lower your own expectations and dig deeper to find out more about the emerging adult. When you work together toward a bright future, trust, communication, and excitement grow in your relationship.
Hold tightly to your authority. As long as your teenager lives in your home or you’re paying for college, your teen is dependent on you and therefore accountable to you. Don’t fall for the wails of the pseudo-mature teenager who thinks she/he should be able to make decisions and live like an adult just because a recent birthday assigned a higher age. Money is a good indicator of adulthood in the sense that independence and financial stability offer freedom and independence. Also, realize that you’re under no obligation to fund the pursuit of a goal that you don’t believe is God’s will for your teen. Pray, seek godly counsel, and then stand firm.
Be available. In the early years, available meant reading a bedtime story and kissing a boo-boo. The teen years bring a lot of emotional needs as well as time-intensive events that require your presence. It’s hard to juggle it all, trust me, I know! But it’s so important to do you all can you simply be there when your teen wants to chat at midnight or to attend the school and sports events. Also, they want to know you enjoy them, so spend time with them one-on-one at your request. I know this sounds like a lot of pressure, but the time goes so fast and you’ll never regret a moment you spend being Mom.
Nicole O’Dell, author of 21 books since 2007, founder of Choose NOW Ministrieswrites and speaks to youth, women, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents, pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues and was recently endorsed by Focus on the Family. Visit www.nicoleodell.com for access to her bustling blog network and other resources.
The Life of a Single Mom (TLSM) is a 501c3 nonprofit that exists to serve single parents and those who work with single parents. We are fully accredited through a variety of organizations that include high levels of financial accountability and awards for our premiere financial stewardship, including GuideStar, Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, Great Nonprofits, Chamber of Commerce, LANO, and others.