Now let me begin this blog post with the fact that I have little experience with teenagers. My experience strictly begins and ends with myself, my friends, and my younger brother. I am in no way an expert, just interested.
With that being said, my mom is in a relationship with a sweet man who has 5 children. 2 are grown adults with children of their own and 3 are still living at home. They range from the ages of 14 to 20. We have talked recently about the struggles she going through raising 3 kids who aren’t hers. Raising 3 teenaged children specifically and the struggles that come with it.Which prompted me to do some research on what are the positive or proven parenting styles for teenaged kids.
My mind keeps going back to the issue of the blended family. I can imagine that raising children gives you years and years of sweet memories, funny moments, lots of love, and cute photos to draw on when you are struggling with your teenaged child. Basically, you are storing up a ton of great memories and love for when they are difficult teenagers. However, if you come into the situation of a blended family with teenaged children you don’t have any of that. You have to take this frustrating, difficult, annoying teen as they are with no past love or fun memories.
But let’s be honest, that sounds terrible. I don’t really like children to begin with so taking on teenage children sounds horrifying. Absolutely terrible. This is where my husband will shine. He used to coach high school basketball and absolutely loved it. He still has great relationships with these boys, and I admire that about him. I hope that our own children get so lucky with great coaches that truly care and love our children like Tyson loves those boys. (Who, I have to add, are only a few years younger than me. ahaha)
Now back to the subject of teenage kids, I will take all the advice I can get to prepare myself for this stage of our lives. Granted I may be a little ahead of myself seeing as how our kids aren’t even school aged yet, but I will still willingly take any and all advice from more experienced parents. 🙂
I went deep into the internet for this one! Mamma, you should be thanking me. 🙂
The first and most important tip I found for parenting or step parenting was to be a positive role model. If you don’t want your kids to be assholes then don’t be an asshole. Simple right? (Yeah, not so much) My mom used to tell me, “Do as I say, not as I do.” and it never worked. I grew up acting so much like my mom it was insane; I probably drove my dad crazy with my attitude, but he won’t tell me to protect my feelings. I had her habits, mannerisms, attitude, and quirks. I had to take a look at my life and how I wanted to raise my own children to start changing my behavior. I’m not saying it’s completely gone because my husband has told me a few times how much I am like my mother and I have caught myself cleaning like crazy thinking, “hmm… this is something mom would do.”
The pointer that spoke to my teenage self, was to not be nitpicky. What I mean by this to choose your battles wisely. If they want to get a permanent tattoo or they want to drop out of school, fucking stop them. Right now! Lock them in their room if you have to! If they want to go to Tennesse, Florida, etc (or BYU) over UGA, stop them immediately! Their brother-in-law will tease them incessantly. You need to keep their priorities straight. Those are life changing decisions. On the flip side, if their room is a constant mess let it go. There’s no reason to constantly argue with them and cause problems at home when you could simply shut their door. If they want to pierce their nose, so what! They can take it out when they are older with no repercussions. I think you get my gist.
Another tip, that would honestly be useful for any aged child, is to decide the rules and discipline in advance, especially if you are in a two-parent (or more) situation. Discuss what you want the rules to be as your children grow and discuss the discipline beforehand so you can be on the same page when the time comes. Coming in as a united front is so important! I’m sure this is a struggle for any parent, co-parenting situation, or step-parent situation. It’s hard to raise kids and it’s even harder as you start adding different personalities and opinions.
Something I found interesting, but could completely agree with, was the fact that being a step parent meant you might have the feeling that your children/child could do no wrong and your step children/child could do no right. I have dealt with this with this issue personally and it’s a bitch. It is a difficult issue to overcome. Ultimately you need to realize every child is different and faces different challenges. As hard as it may be, don’t compare your children to your stepchildren. Or even your own children to each other; each person faces their own obstacles.
The same goes for forgiveness. You can easily forgive your children/child for being incredibly difficult and at the same time hold it against your stepchildren/child. Forgive your step children, they are just kids after all. Try and remember they are only 13, or 14, or whatever age but honestly, they are just kids. What the hell were you doing at that age? I’m sure you were pissing your parents off just like these kids are doing. Give them a break. – Yes, I know I say this now and I will be losing my mind in 10 years. Take it all with a grain of salt. 🙂
This is something that needs to be taught at every parenting class, hospital room, or where ever parents will listen to someone; actions have consequences. There are so many children that don’t face any real consequences for their bad behavior and it drives me nuts! I can’t handle it. Even worse is my son will come home acting like a monster because he picks up on these things. Tyson and I are pretty strict I think, so we come down on our boys hard, maybe too hard from time to time. But, they are well-behaved kids, everyone tells us so. I think a big reason they are so well behaved is because they know if they do something wrong there are consequences and they are not going to like them. Now I’m not saying my kids are perfect because they most definitely are not! They mess up, they make me angry, they push and take toys from each other and other kids, they yell, they scream, and they throw tantrums just like any other kids their age. But I can say with confidence that if I say “CHRISTOPHER CASH” or “DAVID TATE” in my “mom” voice they turn around and listen to what I have to say because they don’t want to deal with whatever will happen if they don’t.
I loved the idea of empowering your children. Empower them to express themselves in your family. Ever since I got pregnant I have always wanted to be the kind of mother my kids felt comfortable coming to with their problems. I want them to know I have their back and they are in a safe place when it comes to me and their dad. Even if they have something negative to tell us or think they are going to be in trouble, I want them to come to us. I want them to come to us when they think we aren’t doing our best. I want them to come to us when they are having problems at school or with friends. I know that’s asking a lot, but I think it can be done. Let your kids know they can trust you.
This tip is more important when you are dealing with blended families, but should be applied in all families; involve the other parent. If you are in a blended family situation then you should involve both parents and any step parents that are involved. All of you should go to school functions, parent-teacher conferences, therapist appointments, etc. You should all be on the same page when it comes to disciple, curfew, rewards, and expectations. If you guys can work together you are showing your children a united front that they can lean on and depend on. It’s also showing them if they get in trouble at Parent A’s house they can’t run to Parent B’s house and get away from it. I know this is an issue for any blended family. My brother and I both did it. Any friends of mine that had divorced parents did it. Even kids whose parents are together, do it; they will try to play the two of you against each other. Stay strong!
I say it all the time but, parenting is hard work. I commend anyone that can do it and stay sane, especially when you add in pressures like divorce and blended families. I know I am nowhere near close to having ‘serious’ problems with my kids, seeing as how they are both so young. I also know I am not in a blended family situation, though we did have some growing pains of our own having Tyson come into the family after Cash had turned 1. All I can really say with confidence is try your hardest to raise good kids, the world will thank you.
And stay strong mamas and daddies!