1. Don’t engage in arguments. If you argue you make yourself a peer. Just listen. State your case. Understand. But hold true to what you believe is right, even if you don’t KNOW at the time it is right, you get to make a mistake, err on the side of cautiousness, and then loosen up later.
2. Starting loose and reining in is so much more difficult. Also, you are allowed to take your time (hours, days, weeks and months) in spite of their immediate demands of “can I go, can I have, etc.” Hold your ground until you decide otherwise, or if you never do, they will thank you for it down the road.
3. Be in a good mood in spite of their moody moods. This is hard I know, I was way too much of an empath, absorbing their moods which means you will feel crazy. Set your mood in the morning and even if you have to fake smile at their crabbiness or tiredness or frustration or whatever, let YOUR mood influence them, not vice versa.
4. Good grades don’t always equal success. Don’t get caught up in the competition of GPA, colleges, and sports. Is he a good kid with a good heart? Do you see a work ethic? Is he kind to others? Those things matter SO MUCH more in life.
5. Teens all make mistakes. Don’t freak out. Unless it calls for freaking out, and then you can. Know what’s freak-out-able about and what isn’t. And then after you freak out, TALK. Take them to lunch, sit on the bed, stay up late (because that’s when they usually come alive-dad would have to do this because I had a baby always) and talk.
6. On dating and relationships-oh boy, this was hard for me because I just felt so bad and worried and concerned over all of it, like it was all happening to me again. And then I remembered, I survived it. Even the surprise break ups or the “but I thought she was going to ask me to the dance”, or us really having a great relationship with boy/girl friends that didn’t work out, it is a part of life and learning. I learned to keep my distance a little with all of it emotionally because it can be a rollercoaster.
7. This one from my mom-ask questions. Why do you think that is the right thing to do? What would you do in that situation? How do you feel about this or that? What is the end result you are looking for? IT WORKS. And it’s a way to keep communication open.
8. From my older kids telling me what I did wrong-when they told me something they heard about someone else or something else or had a different opinion on something I would answer immediately with a judgement instead of just listening and then asking questions.
9. You are allowed to take away the phone or the Ipad or the laptop. And hide them. And let them withdrawal. Which might be nasty. But then they will know what it feels like to have their brains really work again.
10. They will love you again I PROMISE. It might take some time away (college etc) but they will. I never thought it would be true in the thick of it, but I truly have an incredible friendship with my 3 oldest who all drove me crazy at times during their teen years, and probably said some bad words under their breath to me while they slammed a door (and I might have also). I promise, they will come back. And it’s awesome when they do.