70,010 Hours and Counting....Tips on Supporting Teens!
I’m sure you’ve heard the popular saying that if you want to master something, you have to dedicate a minimum of 1,000 man hours until you are an expert! Well with 3 children and approximately 70,010 hrs (who’s counting) of raising 3 teenagers, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say between my wife and I we are pretty seasoned in the department of supporting teens! With that being said I wanted to share a blurb on how we have managed to support our teens during this unpredictable era of the “Rona”. Now if you are anything like us, you were thrown into the circus act of juggling your career, your home, your teen, and some of your spouse. As if the reality of this pandemic wasn’t alarming enough, but the increased burden of doing all of these things 24hrs a day without a break could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, for a lack of better words. Today I want to share just a few of important things that you can do during these uncertain times, and here on out to help you manage the absolutely hardest time of both a child’s life and most importantly, YOURS!!
Structure - Like all humans, teenagers are creatures of habitat and tend to perform well when structure exists. Now again, if your home is anything like mine, at any given moment, you can have multiple kids going in multiple directions! Even with this circus act, to create structure around the chaos is key. In our household, we have our teens abide by a few hard expectations that create structure around their day and peace around ours!
Wake up and be downstairs ready to work by the same time each day. Now our kids are required to be up and downstairs at the table ready to read, write, or do something constructive by 10 am each morning. This allows them to stay up later, sleep in, get a full night's sleep, and wake up with time to complete their morning chores while giving us some much needed "quiet hours" to work in the morning. We have learned that if our kids leave their rooms without first cleaning them in the morning, the chances dwindle away along with the hours left in the day..
Independence - At the end of it all, being a teen is not easy! As a teen, you are a child, whom’s exposure to the world has helped you develop a ton of your own thoughts and opinions and trust me, in today’s world, social media can be blamed for multiplying this by millions. As parents, we are seasoned, and experienced and for the most part, want to teach our kids "what's best" for them. There is nothing wrong with this at all, but in most cases, experience has been the best professor in this game we call life. So I say that to say this, as parents we sometimes allow our ego (or experience) to not allow what I would like to coin as natural lessons in life. If your teen’s idea or mustard seed’s vision of the world seems to have them barking up the wrong tree, provide your advice, but allow them to figure it out in the end. This is how independence is created over time, and I know I’m not the only one who just loves when they circle back and listen because we allowed them to bump their cute little hard heads!
Clear Expectations - Clear expectations! As mentioned I am the a father of three teenagers , I like to believe that I had a great babysitting career, I worked at a juvenile residential program, and I am currently a Dean at a middle school. One thing I have learned when working with kids (and adults), is that you have to say what you want and mean what you say. As a father of 3 teens, (18yr old-freshman in college, 14yr old-freshman in high school and 13yr old-7th grader), I know first hand that this is one of the most difficult things to execute! But there is hope! We are learning that in order to get what you want out of your teens, you have to begin to make explicit requests of how you would like a task completed. Sometimes this means modeling your request through your own actions! Keeping your room clean, being mindful of your temper, eating healthy, and following through on action items! What you thought this was just about the teens?