The other night I called my mom to blow off steam. My teen girls had been pushing all my buttons, as teens do, and I needed a sounding board — someone who had been there, done that. My mother reminded me that there was nothing terribly unusual with their behaviour, they were simply doing what teens have done since time began. She encouraged me to be strong, it would all be okay, and then added as an afterthought, “I’m just glad I’m not raising kids in 2017.” Um, thanks Mom?
After I calmed down and gained some perspective, I realized my mom was right. I need to remain strong and everything will be alright. While I agree with her that raising teens in a digital age creates its own unique challenges, there are a lot of good things that come with it too. While I would never put myself forth as a parenting expert, nor would my teen girls for the record, I have acquired a few tips along the way that keep me focused on the task at hand—getting two girls to adulthood without losing my mind.
Many of these tips have been acquired through seeing what works for other parents and adapting to our family, so pick and choose what works for you and then pass it on.
Practice Your Best Resting Parent Face
My girls tell me just about everything. I’m not delusional, I don’t for two seconds think they lay it all at my feet, but I do know that they open up about things I wouldn’t have even considered with my parents. The reason for this is that I have spent years practicing my neutral face. Just like poker players practice not having tells, parents need this skill for the teen years. If your teens see shock, anger, dismay, disappointment, or fear cross your face, they’ll clam up.
Pro tip: For funsies, play this game with your girlfriends over wine. Practice telling each other the most shocking things you’ll think your teens will ever say to you and see if you can keep a neutral expression. This may seem silly but remember, these women are in the trenches too. Sometimes a little levity is a good reminder that this won’t be forever.
Find Their Currency, Then Use It
Just like we have motivators that push us out of bed in the morning and accomplish things, so do teens, except that they have a counterforce tugging them the other way. Teen malaise is a thing and it can be hard to overcome, unless you find their currency. For some teens it’s sports, for others it’s money, and for many—like my two—it’s data.
Nothing gets my teens attention faster than potentially losing data. It holds more value to them than money, and so I use it to my advantage. Want an hour to lie around and surf? Then, quid pro quo Clarice, quid pro quo.
I use data to get chores accomplished around the house, homework done, or even just to make them pay attention to me when I need their focus. “Payment” in this currency is easier than ever with Rogers Share Everything Plan. I can monitor their data usage via the Rogers app on my phone and when I need to I can temporarily limit their access. Since we’ve moved to this plan, they don’t lose hours of their life in Snapstreaks, and I don’t lose hours of my life chasing after them to get things done.
Be The Cool Mom, Not The Regular Mom
I’m not saying you should be your teen’s BFF; you’re the parent, they’re the child. Those lines, especially in the teen years, need to be clear. That being said, you don’t need to be so uptight you never have fun anymore. Learn the language your kids are speaking and have fun with it. Do it for the ‘gram, watch YouTube together, and take a million filtered pictures. Also, if you don’t take a picture of your Starbucks cups together, then it didn’t happen.
While this might seem silly at first, remember what you’re really doing—spending time with your teen. Study after study shows that while on the surface teens do their very best to push you away, they are actually longing to spend more time with you. Find a way to do it on their terms and you’ll be closer for it.
Have Their Friends Over, A Lot
We have teens at our house constantly. It’s so expected now that I always make extra for dinner, and I routinely buy spare toothbrushes for last minute sleepovers. Nobody is going to have more influence over my kids in the next few years than their friends, so mi casa su casa.
I treat my teens’ friends like family, they are always welcome. Conversely that means if they wake up at my house on a Saturday morning, they help to clean the house; just like family.
Define Your Boundaries
This is about self-preservation parents. We didn’t have instant access to our parents, and just because our kids do, doesn’t mean they should. I’m going to bet that most parents of teens have got the “Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom” text more than once. When my teens do this now, I block them. Sounds harsh, but I do this for two reasons.
First, my stress level—death by text is not my preferred way to leave this world. Secondly, my teens need to figure stuff out on their own because I’m not doing this gig forever. Do not be your teen’s Google. Just because teens can have instant access to everything on the internet doesn’t mean they should have instant access to you. Set the example and draw the boundaries early; you’ll never regret it.
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This post has been proudly sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc. All opinions are those of the author.