I breathed a sigh of relief once I moved past the exhaustion of parenting an infant, when sleep-deprivation seemed as common as breathing. While the toddler years require boundless energy to keep up, I felt that life would slow down for this stay-at-home dad once they started school.
Or so I thought. As the kids have grown, they have needed me less in many ways. They can now manage their own personal care, navigate most social skills and handle school responsibilities. However, as a stay-at-home dad, I needed to take a step back and resist the urge to become a helicopter parent. Once I noticed my tendency to hover and after my kids called me out on my over-involvement, I needed to take some serious steps to address my own behaviors. Read on for what I did to deal with this issue.
Give Teens Space
As my teen was finding his independence, he needed space to test his wings. Since he was trustworthy in the past, he began lashing out when I started hovering. For example, I wanted him to text me every 15 minutes when he went to a friend’s house for three or four hours. Instead, I learned to let him know that I was available if he needed me and engaged him in conversation about what he did when he came home.
Change Up the Schedule
While eating regular meals together helped me bond with my teen, he began to rebel when I scheduled dinner at a specific time each night and didn’t allow for some flexibility. Instead, I let him miss a dinner or two. I looked for other times to eat together, such as a Saturday a.m. brunch or a late lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I sought his help in the kitchen, and we enjoyed working together on food preparation. We planned a weekend family movie night at home. The point is to find something that works for you.
Join Forces with Others
“It takes a village to raise a child” — truer words were never spoken! I looked for others to support my parenting efforts, including teachers, mentors, counselors or youth workers. I also found some male adult family members to act as role models.
Set Firm Boundaries
I had to review boundaries and explain them to my teens, including the consequences for violating them. For example, I had a curfew of midnight for my son on the weekends during his senior year of high school. When he came home at 2 a.m. early one Sunday, he could not go out for the next two weekends. Make your expectations clear and easy to understand.
Demonstrate Your Love
My kids — and yours — need love. This is the top key to raising healthy teens. However, love looks different to each person. To some, it means quality time spent together while to others, it means gifts, encouraging words or a concerned touch. Still others feel love through acts of service. Find out what makes your teen tick and put your energy toward demonstrating your love to him.
Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
This is awesome Tyler. I love your approach. I too had the same approach with my kids when they got into their teens. They are now in their 20's and I am so happy they live their lives on their own terms now!!