Somewhere around the time your child turns 8, 9, 10, or 11, he or she will discover that you are not the superhuman you always seemed to be. You will fall off the pedestal and become a human being with flaws, just like everyone else in the world. This is a devastating but necessary moment in every child’s life…it’s when they take their first steps toward recognizing themselves as separate individuals from you. It’s the beginning of the growing up process, one which will hopefully result in your child becoming a mature teen and a responsible, decent adult.
The struggle, of course, is getting from the point where they recognize you are simply human to the point where they are a mature teen without both of you tearing your hair out and disowning each other. In some families, this seems to happen naturally and easily, but it takes a lot more work that it might seem to from the outside to raise a responsible, mature teen, but there are some things you can do to help both of you get there in one piece.
Lots of parents complain that their teens are disrespectful, but earning a teen’s respect starts with you showing them how to be respectful. That means being respectful of your teen. It’s not easy; even a mature teen can be mouthy and critical and difficult to handle, but if you operate from a point of respect for your teen as an individual who is allowed to have different opinions and beliefs from yours, you will be helping to bring out the mature teen in your child. When you show respect, it’s easier to expect respect too.
Open, Honest Communication
Hiding behind your fears and insecurities will not help you raise a mature teen. No, it’s not easy to talk about sex, love, dating, life, choices, lying, homework, friends, driving, or anything else with the teen who is at an age where he or she feels invincible and omnipotent, but the more open and truthful you are with your teens the easier it will be for your teen to talk to you about the tough stuff. If they don’t talk to you about the challenges they face in life, you won’t have the opportunity to help guide them through each new challenge and help them learn how to handle it on their own.
It’s easy to just keep thinking you have to hold your teen’s hand every step of the way, but in truth, if you want to raise a mature teen, you have to let go and let your teen do some things independently, even if you can see that the end result will be something you would have wanted them to avoid. Letting go gradually can help make the process easier, but letting your teen have the ability to make choices and decisions while you are still there to help them deal with the consequences is an important part of raising a mature teen.
Keeping the Faith
There are days when you will wonder what that strange teenage being did with your son or daughter. Raising teens is difficult, and it does often feel like the child you gave birth to has been replaced by something much more terrifying. You and your teen will survive.
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