Greener BeeGreen GadgetsRaising teenagers: There is no magic formula

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Teenagers need to be forgiven and sometimes we need to give them a break.

I have been reading some of the articles about horror, and happy stories of raising teenagers.

Some parents think boundaries, and making them work for their luxury items is the way to go. Others lament that spoiling a child makes a bad teenagers.

Still, there is fairy-tale advice about how spending time, and discipline make the perfect teenager.

One person even commented how they were not sure how they deserved such great teenagers, and yet still provided advice on how to get them.

* Terrible teens: Advice from parents
* 10 signs you’re over-parenting
* When different parenting styles combine
* Why lazy parentign is good for us – and our children

Here is my five cents, for what it is worth:

Having nice things, and flash gadgets, does not make a teenager a terror. Nor does not insisting they work part time from a young age, or allowing them to stay up till 11pm.

Neither do boundaries, lack of gadgets, more parental time, necessarily make a great teenager.

I have one amazingly good, successful teenager and one who completely dislikes me. One who works part time 20 hours a week, even though she has a somewhat privileged lifestyle, and one who doesn’t like getting out of bed in the morning.

They were both raised the same; I spent quality time with both, following the motto what you do for one, you must do for the other. They both had the same rules, boundaries, and yes, some expensive things.

And yet they both turned out so differently. Because in fact, they have different personalities and as such, require different parenting -as hard as that is to apply.

I know my wayward teenager will come right. Right now, he is a gifted student who is fundamentally lazy and no amount of parenting, or guidance is going to change his nature. Only he can do that. By growing up, learning life’s lessons, by discovering through trial and error what he can and can not do.

The best, and only wise thing that I as a mum can do, is allow him to go through this process, and remind him there is a safety net, allow him to figure a wee bit of life out on his own and “hopefully” steer him on the right course – without expecting that he must follow it.

We all learn from our mistakes, and who of us can honestly say we’ve never made any?

How many of us had to follow our own teenage path no matter what our personal financial situation was, or how wonderful and fantastic our parents were. Or even how bad and deprived we were.

Here is what I do know; good parenting has nothing to do with how much money we have, what we do and do not provide our kids in way of gadgets, whether we insist they go to bed at 10pm or allow them to set their own bedtime.

Being a good parent is accepting your child is an individual, and their life is their journey, and that there is no magic recipe to raise the perfect teenager.

It is about giving them the freedom to grow and make mistakes, and lose their cool every now and then – because God help us every person on the planet does that, and how can we hold teenagers up to a higher standard to the rest of us when they are going through the biggest time of growth in their lives?

I am not a fan of a badly behaved teenager – and I can assure you my son knows that – but he needs to figure life out for himself, and me, as his parent, forcing him to do things, isn’t going to help him. He treats me a certain why because, quite honestly, he knows he can and deep down I will still love him and be there for him when these teen years pass.

Teenagers need to be forgiven and sometimes we need to give them a break. They stuff up, hurt us, make mistakes, and sometimes do not know how to get them out of situations because they lack the maturity – but they crave the independence.

Labelling them ‘terrible teens’ doesn’t help, and I can assure you I have referred to my son in a negative tone some times. But I’m still learning at being a parent. At 40-something I still haven’t got it down pat.

I know it hurts when I am called a terrible mother, it cuts me to the bone, so I have learned that I shouldn’t paint a teenager in this same way because why would they not have the same deep feelings as I?

My happy teenager has some amazing, wonderful friends, and I see them all going through a nexus of the same thing with their parents, and their own lives. Because we assume teenagers are going to be horrible, and are surprised in bewilderment when we get good ones, everything they do is painted by a “teenage behaviour” brush.

So please, I just ask, before you label your teenager terrible, and lament their behaviour, just take a breath, allow them some breathing room to grow and stuff up if they have to, (criminal behaviour excluded of course).

Teenage years only last four to five years, being an Adult lasts for a hell of a lot longer.

Do you have advice or observations for other parents on raising teenagers? Hit the green button to contribute to this assignment.

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