I often feel the pre conception of the teenage years is that they are full of worry and upheaval. That the child you brought into the world is a door slamming, walking, talking (maybe less of the talking) hormone. In some respects it is all true but it really doesn’t have to be the worst years of parenting if you change your mindset and embrace the change.
We are very lucky, Hollie is a very mature 14 year old, she’s confident beyond her years and sensible to some degree but we’ve had our fair share of struggles in recent months, which led me to change my approach on parenting her. I ditched the obvious and looked to parent Hollie as an individual, I based our boundaries, rules and curfews around her personality. My way of dealing with most things is to always look on the bright side of it all, I am a glass half full type of person, so I wondered why I wasn’t taking this approach with Hollie, why everything was always so negative and to be honest I just wasn’t listening or understanding her, my judgment was clouded by the typical teenager attitude and I forgot that she has so many wonderful parts to her personality not just those hideous raging hormones. The speech she read at our wedding had everyone in tears, she was witty, loving and beautiful and I had to start to see this in everyday life.
I will admit at times it takes all I have to praise her, part of me could of easily lock her in her room and throw away the key, peaceful right? No way that’s too easy, I wasn’t giving up on her, I was determined to crack her with positive parenting and so far it seems to be working.
I asked Hollie why she thinks our way of parenting is working so well for us now, why we have so much fun and feel more connected.
Why do you think our family life is more fun than it used to be ?
You take me to so many cool things, like festivals and gigs. You make an effort to be interested in my music taste and my personal life but you don’t go too far and you let me make my own choices.
Do you feel being open and honest is helping you grow into a better young adult?
Yes, because it makes me feel safe, it feels like its a natural thing to do to trust you, I might get into trouble but I know that you’re always there and you will help me and forgive me.
I think when Hollie says she feels safe what she means is that she knows she can call me anywhere, anytime. She knows that even if I might not be happy about the situation she may have got herself into, I will always be there to rescue her and she will accept the consequences because she knows there will be some but for me its some sort of safety blanket while she is growing up in this world. I now tend to let Hollie figure out her own mistakes, I think it teaches her the fundamental values of becoming a good person and learning right from wrong, I really try to guide and influence her rather than telling her what to do. I now absolutely love this side of parenting, we have such good chats about how I feel, about how she feels, sometimes we set the world to rights and I’m super proud of her views on current affairs and her love of public speaking at school. Seeing her grow into an adult is exciting; ok the lows are rubbish but she challenges me, she helps me grow as a person and this is what this chapter of parenting is all about.
Hollie also loves a music festival and I think for us we found our common ground, somewhere we all love going as a family, something that we can look forward to, also memories we still look back on and laugh about. I truly believe any family can have this, its finding what you all love that’s the hardest part, just because you love sitting by the pool in Spain doesn’t mean your teenager does. Getting out your comfort zone and doing something they enjoy will not only show them you’re interested but no doubt they will find you having a go at something they enjoy highly amusing and you will all come away having a good old laugh even if it’s at your expense.
I feel teenagers have a bit of a bad rep because of a bad few, they’re really not all stealing, swearing wastes of space. In fact they are interesting, passionate, intelligent and wonderful young humans. They have it tough, the world isn’t an easy place these days and growing up is hard. As we all seem to forget, we’ve all been there, the feeling of not fitting in, isolation, worrying if we look right and the pressure of school. I’m not saying we should start giving them the world or make allowances for bad behaviour but I am saying lets celebrate the good positive things they do, even if that’s just bringing the dirty dishes down every now and then instead of moaning how long they’ve been up there, be thankful they are bringing them down at all. Parenting teenagers is hard, it’s never going to be easy but lead by example and be who you want your children to be, more importantly try and turn those negatives into positives and a mistake into a life lesson. You can parent a teen and enjoy it.
A Guest Blog from Gemma Pepper
Gemma is a modern day stay at home mum, putting all her efforts into finding ways to keep her sanity while parenting her tribe her way. Passionate about writing, wine and music festivals. An advocate of teenagers and positive parenting in real life situations. You can find Gemma on her blog www.lifewiththepeppers.com or give her a follow over on Instagram.