When going through the teenage years, it can be difficult, at best, sometimes, but with patience and open communication from the beginning and concrete boundaries and punishment, you change the war zone into a nice coexistence.
A United Front Is the Key: As parentsm the best thing you can do for your pre-teen and teenage children is to be on the same page. The teenage years are confusing enough. They have to learn about false friends, major bullying issues, body changes, and trying to get their independence. As parents, you cannot add to the confusion by not having the same rule and consequences.
Rules: Believe it or not we all have rules, and it is okay to be parents. Remember your child has friends, and you are not meant to be one of them. The key is to sit down and talk about the new rules as they are needed, this way your child doesn’t feel like you’ve blind-sided them like everyone else. Start in the summer before they go to middle school, let them know what you expect out of them at school and after school. Chores, homework, social time should all have boundaries, and you should talk about them upfront along with consequences of breaking the rules.
The Rest of the Family: No one else should be involved during a punishment, even if they were part of the problem. If the children do something to each another, or if they both got caught doing the wrong things, the punishment should be separate. Speak with each one individually first, then together, but punish separately but equally.
Consequences: They should fit the age and the crime. Never put out punishment in the heat of the moment, as the mother of two teenagers, I found you tend over punish in anger. When you calm down, you being to realize you were too harsh and then you go back on the punishment, leading to becoming too soft. Whenever you are that angry, both of you need to go into separate spaces and think, come back and talk things out. You are still the parent and punishment has to happen but they need to be heard and become part of the solution.
Friends: Do not think you should ever become their friend during these years. These are the years that shape them into who and what they will become; and it is your job to make sure they have great ethics. They have friends who are their own age and later when they are in the college years you will become friends. They need friends to talk about you and what they think is unfair right now, with people their own age. You will have friendship moments with them, but they will be quality moments.
Just keep remembering that you were that age once, life felt unfair, and totally against you. As a former teenager myself, a mother of one teenager, and mother of a post-college woman who has made it through, I know you will too. Keep in mind that you are both going through changes and with any change, you need to give it time and patience. There will be days and nights you think you won’t make it, but on the other side is fun, happiness, and the strongest adult you could help create.