Someone once told me that parenting is having a repeated lesson in letting go. From the moment your child enters the world, every phase of development offers lessons in how they should navigate the world and gain the confidence for further independence. Sometimes the most challenging aspect of parenting is knowing when to step back and share the power.
As your child becomes a teenager, this sharing of power becomes even more important. Kids need to have experiences and opportunities to face tough choices and push through difficult circumstances. How can you help them have these experiences and guide them in making choices? Here are some strategies:
Moving forward and fostering the goal of independence (in whatever form that takes), leads to the creation of a vision for one’s life. This process begins by sharing ideas at the dinner table, casually mentioning a new interest during the car ride to school, or even hinting about a new instrument your child would like to try. Respecting a young person’s dream, especially when the interest is just beginning, can have a lasting impact on their ability to take risks and try new things.
Give Them a Voice
Ask open-ended questions and provide opportunities for your teen to express their reasoning. These are great ways to highlight the power of someone and develop a point of view. Create opportunities for your child to give opinions in a safe and respectful environment. This provides a lesson on how to relate when having conversations with others.
Spend time with your teen. Often, this is the most effective way to show them that you care. Being responsive to their needs means understanding when someone needs time to be alone or having the insight to know when something is on their mind and they may want to talk. This is knowledge that cannot be gained from a book. Experience is the only way to adapt to your child’s unique abilities and needs.
Establish moments for collaboration with your teen. Approach some situations in a way that you and your teen are on equal footing and part of the problem-solving. The more opportunities for your kid to problem-solve with your assistance, the better. This practice will prepare your child for situations that are sure to come up in the future.
Sharing power is difficult for every parent. The time and investment that you have given makes it unclear when to let go and when to hang on even tighter. But, breaking it down into steps, and remembering to take one day at a time…makes it a little bit easier (sort of).
Content from this blog was inspired by:
More useful tips on building better relationships with your teen
Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., & Scales, P. C. (2015). Don’t forget the families: The missing piece in America’s efforts to help all children succeed (summary of key findings). Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. The complete study is available at www.search-institute.org/dff.
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About the Author
Anna works as an employment counselor at Employment Resources, Inc. Anna is also a blogger – Anna Works…Let’s talk about employment, empowerment, and disability. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from UW-Madison.
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