Posts Tagged ‘teens’
Am I a Helicopter Parent?
You may have wondered if you are too attentive to your child’s needs, or if you have been overly involved in his or her relationships or decisions. And if you have, you wonder how to stop, to keep your child from becoming so dependent on you or your opinions, that he can’t make decisions for himself.
It can be hard to tell how much is too much. You are caring, attentive, involved, and dedicated to your child’s success … all the things you hear make up good parenting. And yet, sometimes you get sideways glances from your friends or relatives. Other times they come right out and tell you that you shouldn’t be so involved in your child’s life. Or worse, they avoid talking and withdraw from your friendship, leaving you wondering what you did wrong.
“I want the best for my child,” says a client who comes to me with this issue, “but I don’t know where the line is. Should I be checking his grades online every day or every week? Should I try to find out who he’s texting, who he’s friends with on Instagram, and how the coach feels about his performance at practice? Should I contact the school counselor if he seems depressed or discouraged?”
What IS a parent’s job in this day of over exposure to media and pressure to perform?
First, realize that it’s a totally different world from the one we grew up in. The sheer number of ways that a child can now interact with the world without parental knowledge is mind-boggling. The news carries stories of Amber Alerts and stranger abduction. It’s very hard to know how to navigate this territory, and you are not alone.
Here are some tips for healthy monitoring of your child’s life, without overdoing it.
- Place parental controls on all your child’s devices. Don’t apologize for doing this. With the Internet’s reach, it’s simply good parenting to eliminate the vast array of potentially harmful sources. Google your Internet provider + parental controls to get the info you need. Do this today.
- It’s not being too involved if your child is struggling in school, and you check the parent portal once every week or two. Your only response needs to be one of offering help if needed, not a lecture on grades. If your child is doing well, it’s his or her business what the grades look like.
- If you are paying for the phone, you have access to the texts and social media passwords. I’m sorry to say it’s important that your child not have privacy in this area, because cyber-bullying and inappropriate postings are too easy for developing humans. They need our guidance, and having access to them, along with weekly checks, is just prudent practice. Keep in mind that some apps (get a good list here) are designed to have the messages disappear after only a few seconds. If someone posts something inappropriate that features your child, it IS possible to preserve the image by screen-shot, and pass it on on other social media platforms, which means it’s on the Internet forever. This needs to be explained to your child.
- “No screens an hour before bed” (to prevent sleep loss) and “the phone is charged in the kitchen” (to prevent constant availability) are two good rules.
- It’s not overly involved to talk about ways predators can pose as 15-year-olds online and ask teens to meet them in person. Be certain that your child’s whereabouts are always clear to you. Apps on their phones that communicate with yours can locate them, and I think it’s a good idea. Ask your child to let you know where she is, and expect compliance. Be casual about it, but also be firm. The phone is a privilege, and its use depends on this rule being followed.
- Being friends on Facebook or Instagram with your child’s friends is usually over the line. Being friends with their parents is a good way to stay connected, so you know what’s happening in their world, too, and can be united for all your children.
- Encourage in-person socialization, so that children don’t forget how to relate one-on-one. Allowing them to invite friends to your home is not overly involved. Inviting them yourself, or asking their parents to send them over, is.
- Monitor sleep-overs just enough to discourage drinking or inviting unwanted guests. Do not “hang out” with your child’s friends in your home unless invited.
- Remember that some level of privacy is necessary for a child to develop normally. Invite sharing, but if you don’t get it, stay relaxed. Have an understanding with your child that if something seems really amiss with a friend, you will be in touch with his or her parents. Use compassion, not policing.
- As your child grows into young adulthood, take a stance of support and encouragement, while being there as a guide for the inevitable rough spots.If you have questions about this or any other parenting issue, visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching.
Handling Touch with Touchy Teens
By Tina Feigal Copyright © 2015
Yesterday I coached a mom to put her arm around her teen son and express her appreciation for the living room being picked up. She let it go when I said it, but circled back to it later in the session, saying, “About that putting my arm around him? That’s not happening.”
We discussed what she thought may have been the reason for the “no touch” policy her teen was silently enforcing. She said she didn’t really know, so I offered some ideas. “That one,” she said after I gave a short list, “He doesn’t feel lovable.”
Sad as this is, it doesn’t have to stick. When this caring mom realized that her son didn’t feel lovable, we set about planning to help him receive her touch. Why? Because kids thrive on the unspoken acceptance that comes with touch from their parents. Even when they don’t seem to want it, it can be a powerful message of affirmation.
Another reason to help your child accept touch as a normal form of healthy expression is that you want him able to accept affection as a precursor to forming a romantic relationship. This is normal development, and should be seen in a positive light. If you feel hesitant to touch your teen for fear of being misinterpreted as inappropriate, let that go. Kids need healthy touch from their parents. Arms around shoulders, soft hand caresses, hugs, cheek and forehead kisses, and for some cultures, kisses on the lips, are all bonding tools for parents and children. Don’t miss your opportunity to help your child learn healthy touch.
Here are 4 ways to build toward positive physical affection:
1. Let go of preconceived ideas about touch. Open your heart to moms and dads showing physical affection to their teens, because they need it. But don’t push when your child moves away from your touch. It may take a while before it feels comfortable. Stay focused on the giving aspect of physical touch, rather than what you’re receiving. That will come later.
2. Start with your voice. Use a tone that says, “I accept you.” So if there’s a hole in the screen door, ask gently, “What happened?” and then, “What do you want to do about it?” A lecture at this time will only spark opposition, and won’t get you what you want, which is a screen replaced by your child and an intact relationship. Gentle inquiry will be interpreted as willingness to help them problem solve, but without the judgment. That’s what teens need.
When you need tasks done around the house, meet with your children and ask, “How should we divide the tasks around here?” but don’t offer your ideas. Create a vacuum so they can fill it in with their solutions. Use an appreciative tone when talking about their cooperation: “When you cleaned up the kitchen, I felt so relaxed and happy, because I didn’t even have to ask. You are making my day!” (Note: Even if it’s not perfectly clean, do respond with appreciation. We get more success when we reward their efforts without criticizing the exact way they cleaned up.)
3. If your teen isn’t used to touch, start small. You wouldn’t want to give bear hugs to someone who doesn’t ever hug you, so a warm touch to the forearm when you are talking will be a good start. If that’s rebuffed, let it go and try again with a touch to the hand. When that’s gone well, use opportunities to put your arm gently on his shoulder when talking. Then work toward touching cheeks at bedtime. As these small touches are accepted, you can move toward a light hug, and then a “real hug.” The pace will depend on your focused reading of the teen’s signals, with backing off if it’s not well-received, and starting again with a smaller touch.
4. When your teen needs to feel lovable (and what teen doesn’t?) keep an open dialogue, supported by interested questions about his day, his friends, school, and sports. “What did you learn in science today?” shows interest. “Did you get all your science homework handed in?” communicates controlling. Teens are allergic to being controlled, so you’ll get a lot more conversation when you leave that part out, and just show curiosity. “Thanks for telling me,” is a great response.
Some teens are just not open to touch, even if you do everything right. That’s OK. You tried. But work on the tone of voice and helping him feel lovable anyway, as these are huge in allowing your child to grow toward healthy physical affection.
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