New Year’s Resolutions for Parents
The New Year is a time when we often reflect over the past year and think about how we would like to improve going forward. Although it’s a wonderful idea to make positive resolutions such as to exercise more or to eat healthier, we recommend that you make a parenting resolution for 2016!
Parenting teens is tough! Most of us could probably list ten things that we know would make us better parents, but that feels completely overwhelming to tackle. We suggest that you pick one thing to work on in 2016, and by improving just that one thing, you will improve your relationship with your teen. Here are some New Year’s Resolutions you might like to try:
Become a better communicator. Resolve to talk (and nag) less and listen more. Studies consistently show that teens respond better to open-ended questions than lectures. As parents, you have wonderful advice to share, but teens are at an age where they need a safe sounding board and the opportunity to make their own mistakes. People like to share more when they feel that they are heard. If you are frequently lecturing your teen, then your teen will withdraw. Experts recommend that parents say 50% less than they normally do.
Spread positivity. Teens are battered by negative messages from the media, peers, bullies, teachers, and yes, you. They hear everything that is wrong with them, and they take it to heart. Resolve this year to find and share positive things about your teen. Perhaps set yourself a reminder each week to tell your teen something you admire about them or something they did that you appreciated. You may not always get a response from them, but the positive praise is bound to improve their spirits and make you feel happier as well!
Help your teen find a summer (or part-time) job. Employment can provide a number of benefits for our teens, such as increased responsibility, better self-confidence, more independence, improved time and money management skills, additional networking opportunities, and valuable work experience. Your teen will need your assistance to land that first job, but be careful to guide them without actually taking over their job search. Visit some of our previous blogs on this topic for ideas: Teens and Part-Time Jobs, How Teens Can Get That First Job, and 8 Common Job-Hunting Mistakes that Teens Make.
Share a hobby. One of the best ways that parents and teens can build a positive relationship is by spending time together doing something they both enjoy. Talk to your teen about something they would like to do. If you both enjoy nature, maybe you would both enjoy trying a different hiking trail once a month. Or, you could ask your teen to list five different activities (e.g. photography, cooking, kayaking, etc.) that they would like to learn more about and you could enjoy taking a class together.
Set up a contract. One of the major sources of arguments in homes with teens revolves around rules, expectations, and consequences. Wouldn’t you love to stop the fighting? Setting ground rules takes away the nagging and complaining from both parents and teens. Experts suggest making a contract, with input from your teen, that lists the boundaries and rules for your family. It should be very specific, laying out your expectations regarding curfews, technology use, substance abuse, dating, school performance, etc. Make a corresponding list of privileges that your teen keeps if they follow the rules and a list of consequences if they break the rules.