By: Nicole Rodiles
Nicole is a full time Psychology Professor at Imperial Valley College. She’s a resident of El Centro, CA and married to her best friend, Todd Pankratz. She’s mom of two beautiful smart girls whose ages are 12 and 13, and stepmom of Connor, who’s currently 20.
Parenting can be a very rewarding experience and it also can be a very frustrating endeavor. As parents, we all wake up one day and say, “ I wish there was a manual that would tell me what to do in this circumstance”, but there isn’t. So we share our joys and frustrations with other parents, sometimes welcoming suggestions. Other times, dreading the unwanted anecdotes. But, most days, we relish in the role of being a parent.
I’ve always felt that I was a pretty decent parent, not a perfect parent, but a good one. I always enforced limits and boundaries, with consistency. Then my oldest daughter became a teenager, and I felt very incompetent. I looked at my husband about three months after her turning 13, and said, “ I don’t know if I’m too strict or not strict enough because nothing is working”. Everything I’d known to work until that time, no longer worked. The daughter that had always been my baby girl, I no longer recognized. She had an attitude and preferred being with friends, or talking to friends through social media, than being around us.
None of this is unique to me or my husband. All parents go through this, and seem to survive. I’ve had so many parents tell me that they went through the same with their kids, and as adults, their kids now “like” them again. This is comforting as a future prospect but doesn’t help much as you’re going through the frustrating attitude of your teen. Or the constant “nagging” that seems to be required to get them to do routine things such as “ do your homework” or “get off your phone”.
The only thing I know for sure is that consistency, and following through, is the key. If you tell them that they are on restriction for a week, then hold out on that week, even if they are behaving well. That way they will think twice about misbehaving the next time around. And don’t stop showing them affection, even when they don’t seem interested, and even bugged by it, at times. Who knows, they may surprise you, and initiate affection towards you, occasionally.
Our job is to be a parent, not a friend, to our teens. That is the best piece of advice I can give. Even though it may seem easier to just give in, so that your teen is happy with you, that is a disservice to them. They need you to be the adult and do what is best for them, not what makes them happy. One day, they will thank you for caring and being the parent that they needed. And share your frustration with other parents, I guarantee you, you are not alone. And it helps to know that.