If you’re a ‘Helicopter Parent,’ hovering and rarely out of touch, think about joining the grassroots movement that advocates giving teens space.
As you’ve noticed, there are lots of hormonal and brain changes going on in adolescence. You may feel ambivalent about backing off at this time, especially if your kids are under stress or emotionally fragile. But during these growing up years, a wide range of emotions comes with the territory. And learning to let go is best for them and for you. Here are some practical tips to try as you shift the responsibility from your shoulders to where it now belongs:
Encourage your teens to make their own decisions. Be supportive but have them deal with the consequences themselves. Give fewer directions while they’re learning new problem solving skills. Although they’ll be faced with many choices, experience is a great teacher.
Resist completing chores that they can do. As much as these may have been in your job description up until now, it’s time to pass the baton. See it as boot camp. Soon enough your teens will be off to college and the more competent they are, the more confident they’ll be.
Think of reasons to support their growth. Focus on their positive qualities as you sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember that right now they need to learn to be more independent and accountable for their actions. And that includes working things out for themselves.
Give up old habits of micromanaging. You have to do it sooner or later. When you continue to worry about what’s going on in their lives, you’re sending them messages that you don’t trust they can handle it on their own.
Technology makes it too easy to stay connected. If staying in touch regularly satisfies both of you, establish a middle ground and put some limits on the contact. Let your kids know that you’ll be there if necessary, but don’t enable their dependency.
Minimize financial assistance. Sure, you need to be responsible for basic necessities, but encourage them to get part-time jobs in high school. As your goal is to prepare them to live on their own, help them learn how to budget. If they can’t manage, boomeranging back may become the only option and everyone then pays a price.
Watching your children grow up can fill you with mixed emotions. As you face the challenges that come with letting go, it may be harder than you imagine. Recognize the fine line between support and intrusion. When your teens are grown, don’t you want them to be independent, in healthy relationships, and ready for that dream job?
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