When I first heard that the Center for Parent and Teen Communication had put together a “Parenting Playlist”, I assumed it was a list of songs that describe what it’s like to raise a teenager. Songs like “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “The Theme From Psycho” and “For the Love of God, Please Take a Shower, You Freakin’ Stinkpot” (original song by Wendi Aarons). But I was wrong. The CPTC has instead created 25 awesome 100-word pieces that offer quick, sage nuggets of advice for parents of teens. You can check them all out here, but I’ll tell you my favorite ones right now. Pay attention.
Even when the question is, “Oh my god, why didn’t you turn in your math homework? It’s right there in your stupid backpack!” Yelling and nagging don’t work to keep your teen successful in school and life, despite our best efforts. Plus, I personally always feel like a jerk after I’ve lost my cool. So instead, I do this.
Come In For a Landing
When my boys were small, I definitely had Helicopter Parent tendencies. Like, I’d email the teacher if she didn’t make one of them the line leader when it was their turn. Grosssss. But then I saw that it wasn’t helping either them or me, and it was making all of us stressed out, so I switched to this other approach. It’s so much better and there are no blades involved.
This year my son Sam has a friend who not only has his license, but also a brand-new Mustang. (His parents are obviously much nicer than we are because if anyone’s getting a new Mustang in this house, it’s not the kid.) I trust Sam, but I still feel anxious every time he walks out the door and gets into his friend’s car. This piece of #ParentingPlaylist advicemade me understand why I should just relax already.
What’s the worst reaction you can give someone who’s freaking out? Freaking out in response. “I KNOW YOU’RE UPSET ABOUT YOUR SHIRT, OKAY? CALM DOWN.” It took me a while to learn that I need to override my natural instinct to meet big emotions with my own big emotions. I agree with this technique 100% and wish I’d read it a few years earlier. Like before I had kids. Like in high school.
We Have Ways of Making You Talk
We’ve all asked our kid how their day was at school only to be met with the classic one word response of, “Fine.” Or we’ve gone further and asked about a specific test or class and probably had the door slammed in our faces. That’s why years ago I started asking my sons about something only tangentially related to school. Like, “I had pizza for lunch today. What’d you have? Really? Who were you sitting by? Does he still chew with his mouth open?” Here’s more on why doing it that way works.
Pretty good, huh? And these are just five of the snackable pieces of Parent Teen advice the CPTC offers. Be sure to take a look at the other 20 #ParentingPlaylist nuggets they have on their site. (Yes, I just said both “snackable” and “nuggets” and I’m probably hungry, so don’t judge.) Be sure to test some of the ideas out, consider the others, and make yourself feel good with the ones you’re already doing. Then be a good person and share them with anyone you know who’s knee deep in teenland.
Especially if they have a freakin’ stinkpot in their house who won’t take a shower.
More info on the great resource that is the Center for Parent and Teen Communication:
This post was sponsored by CPTC. All opinions and stabs at humor are mine.