The biggest influence on your teenagers aren’t the fashion models on the runway or rappers in the music videos. It’s not their favorite teacher or their admired basketball player. The biggest influence for any teenager is you, their parents.
Whether you are mom, dad or someone in between, you are the influence that will change the perception that your teenagers come to have of the world. Your actions, your words – they all rub off on your kids from the moment they are old enough to walk and talk. You have the biggest influence on your children until they turn 12, and after that, they start to sniff out into the world a little more. Once adolescence hits, they are guided by more than us – that doesn’t mean that we stop being a positive influence on our children, however.
You want to be able to get your teenager into college with the understanding that they are there because of your guiding hand, your helpful words and your cautious support that hangs in the background until they need you. You want to know that you are the positive they need, and you want to be able to nod to yourself and say you did it. Whether you are a parent emerging from https://www.sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/colorado/colorado-springs/ after doing your best to fight your own demons, or you are taking your teenager here for their own treatment, you can still be the positive influence that your teenager needs the most. You can be that person that they wake up to and want to talk to in the morning. You’re that person that ensured that they were independent and happy. So, how can you make sure that you have a positive influence on your teenager?
- You need to be available. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder when we’re talking about the relationship between you and your teenager. In fact, absence makes their desperation for guidance and support more intense. It makes it so that your teenager feels alone and unsure and it’s because you’re not there for them. Nothing tells your teenager that they matter than a parent who is happy to stop what they’re doing and give them some attention. If you are there emotionally, that’s half the battle won.
- Remember that they are people, too. It’s easy to snap and be sarcastic when you’re overworked and tired, but it’s even easier to apologize and remember that your children are human, too. They have emotions and wants and needs in their lives and you are there to guide them to those things. It’s such an influence if you are someone who can own your mistakes and tell them that you’re sorry for being snappy and rude.
- Don’t fix them. The best thing that you can do is allow your teenagers to make mistakes (within reason, of course) without trying to fix them. You can kiss a sore knee and you can soothe a broken heart with ice cream and hugs. You can’t just dive in and start dissecting their relationships and helping where you’re not asked. The best thing that you can ever ask your teenager is: do you want some help, or do you want me to listen? This sentence is pure magic for an unsure teenager.
- Keep some boundaries. While you want to be an open book for your teenager, you can’t be a pushover or a best mate. You are a parent, which means that there has to be some boundaries. You know your teenager will push them, but as long as they know you’re ready to catch them and take them to rehab, or catch them without judging them, you are going to have a pretty well-rounded teenager on your hands. Remember: freedom of choices doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, and you have to teach your teenager this!
- Be silly! Sometimes, you can be such a positive influence when you just play! Get silly, set up a water fight after school. Play video games and host movie nights. Get them involved with you even if they do roll their eyes. Cuddle your kids, make up secret handshakes and keep a running tally of your Scrabble games on a board in the house so that whenever they come home, they smile. Be positive for your teenagers and they will be positive for you.
- Show them some gratitude. When you are grateful for what they do in the house, or the effort they put into their schoolwork or their job, show it! Show them that you appreciate them and that you respect them. You have to remember how you would feel if your parents did that for you. Be the parent you wish you had – they’ll remember it forever.
- Keep your expectations high, but praise them regardless. You might want your children to receive straight A’s, but if they get C’s they still deserve time with you and a night out at the movies. Promising good things in return for good grades only adds pressure and that leads to feelings of inadequacy on the behalf of your kids. Don’t do that to them. Be the parent that praises them no matter what, celebrating every single win and crafting a plan to get them where they want to go next time.
- Love them. The simplest way to be that positive influence on your kids is to love them. Let them get to adulthood knowing that they have a happy and healthy relationship with their parents. You want to tell them that they’re important to you and you love them for whoever they are no matter what. You want to be the kind of parent that a teenager can turn to, and that should start with the way that you love them. Do it openly and in a big way and don’t hide it in order to coerce and control. You and your kids deserve more than that and your teenager is going to grow up balanced when you love them more.