Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Is interacting with your teenager like walking through a mine field and you never know what will set them off? And you sometimes feel they're only nice when they want something from you.
Are you even wondering what you ever did to deserve their behaviour and maybe how you can get back some control.
And do you miss the younger child that used to love and adore you.
You're not alone.
There are a multitude of parents who are struggling to parent their teenagers. Some feel their teenagers are entitled, disrespectful and impossible to parent. Others are afraid they're losing them to poor behaviour, bad friendship choices, potential alcohol and drug abuse and bad life choices.
And some parents are just plain afraid of their children.
If you can relate to some of what I'm saying here are some suggestions.
I think a great place to start is to examine with your child what is a right and what is a privilege in life.
Rights are things like: food, water, a safe environment, clothing, love and respect.
Privileges are things like phones, video games, T.V. or streaming programmes, designer or fashion clothes, makeup, take away foods, eating out, movies, concerts, holidays, etc.
Considering that your teenagers often rely upon you for many of their privileges, this gives you some bargaining power if you put strategies in place to use them.
For example: Does your child expect you to supply a phone, pay for calls and internet and then treat you with disrespect if you ask them to put their phone away for meal times.
Does that make sense to you? Would your child see that as fair if the roles were reversed?
Instead of giving your child a phone as a right, explain that it's a privilege and it will be treated as a privilege. The phone remains your property and there will be rules and expectations governing its use by your teenager.
Some suggested rules could be for example:
The phone (which you purchased and made available for your teenager to use) can only be used between 8:00 in the morning until school commences and after school until 8:30 at night.
Homework must be kept completed and if phone usage impinges upon schoolwork, the hours of available phone usage will be reduced. This also ensures quality sleep.
Phones passwords are to be made available to parents and for young teenagers parents need to be able to check phones periodically to ensure they're happy with the way they're being used.
Phones need to be turned off during meal times. Parents need to model this behavior too as teenagers are quick to spot hypocrisy.
Usage costs are expected to be kept below what you agree they should be. My husband and I use Amaysim for $10 a month. And if it's good enough for the adults of the family and teenagers want the privileges of being an adult...
Discuss there are codes of behaviour for phone usage. Swearing, online bullying or sexting are things that will not be tolerated and will result in immediate loss of phone privileges. This could be for a minimum of one week but for online bullying or sexting it could be much longer. The reinstatement of privileges would also require parent monitoring. (For example: I was talking to a parent whose 14 year old son was sexting. After removing phone privileges for a time he now has to voluntarily turn over his phone to his parents whenever they ask to check it. Either that or not use it at all.)
Remember by law you have to maintain your teenagers rights, but privileges are a bonus.
The other concept is if your teenagers want all the rights of being an adult, with that comes with the responsibility of being an adult.
For example: If they tell you they have the right to do whatever they want (the rights of an adult,) let them do their own washing, cooking, ironing, transport, etc (the reality of being an adult.) And let them earn their own money to do it with.
Let them experience what it's really like to be an adult.
Scenario One: Your child doesn't value their belongings (or your belongings) and they often lose or break things or demand upgrades.
Possible Solution: Let teenagers experience natural consequences. If they lose something or break something let them experience what it's like not to have it. And when they tell you about their loss or breakage, expecting you to replace it, instead say something like: 'I hate when things like that happen,' or 'Bummer' or ' That's annoying for you.'
And then walk away. Don't jump in to create a solution for them.
Let them experience the loss and solve the problem they've created themselves or experience what it's like to continue to go without.
For example, even though you've asked him not to your son often leaves his expensive guitar on his bed in the sun all day when he heads off to school. One day he leaves his window open. It rains and the guitar gets wet, warping the neck. He needs the guitar for a school concert. What do you do?
If he directly asks you for help to replace it you might assist him, but there will be conditions attached (similar to what I provided above) and it needs to be clearly stated that said item will not be replaced by you again. An alternative could be he could earn the money for the replacement by completing chores. Or you could buy a second hand one and let him earn the money at a part-time job to get the standard of guitar he previously had.