Lisa is crying and upset. Her friend said something awful on Snapchat and she is an emotional mess. Her teen brother, John, is dealing with a relationship break-up and needs a little advice from dad.
Ah, the dreaded tween/teens years! But, there is no reason to dread parenting this age group. Tweens and teens can present a lot of drama, but also multiple opportunities to shape and influence who they are becoming.
The way you approach your tween/teen matters. Parenting styles tend to fall in one of four categories:
- Authoritarian. These parents have high expectations. Rules are expected to be followed. Authoritarian parents don't usually give children options and can lack warmth and nurturing. Their approach is, "Do it because I told you so."
- Authoritative. These are parents who expect children to follow rules, but are much more responsive and democratic in the process. Discipline is supportive rather than punishing.
- Permissive. They have few demands of the child and rarely discipline. These parents act more like the child's friend than a parent.
- Uninvolved. These are moms and dads who have few demands or aren't really involved. They can also be rejecting or neglecting of a child's needs.
Researchers have found that parents who are more authoritative in their parenting style have kids with fewer behavior problems, higher academic achievement, and less depression and anxiety. They tend to fare better overall. This means the Type A parent's push for order and getting things done should be balanced with fun, encouragement, and support. The driven Type A parent has to be careful to show compassion along the way and understand that success can look different for different kids.
The danger of pushing too hard is that children begin to feel they aren't accepted for who they are and learn to conform to your dreams, not theirs. The best thing is to understand your child's temperament and help him/her reach his/her potential and passion, using a balance of pushing and accepting.
Bottom line: Consider your parenting style. Are you doing what you can to open communication and stay attuned to the challenges of parenting tweens and teens? Parents, you are the most important influence in a tween/teens life. Don't ever minimize your interactions as they set the stage for healthy adult relationships.