As a parent, there comes a time when you must allow (or demand) your children to take responsibility for their actions.
Welcome to raising a teen.
Didn’t do your schoolwork? Not my problem.
Slept in and missed breakfast? Not my problem.
Forgot your permission slip at home? Not my problem.
Rather than view this as a lack of parenting, I call it parenting with intention, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.
How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?
Here are 6 things you need to stop doing for your teen this year…
- WAKING THEM UP (they have an alarm)
Your teen has an alarm clock. Quit doing its job. Starting around middle school your child should be equipped with the tools (and discipline) to get themselves out of bed in the morning. There are inevitably going to be days s/he will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door, but they’ll learn the snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.
For parents that love waking your teens up in the morning, please stop. It’s your job to raise well-functioning adults capable of putting feet to floor ON TIME without requiring you to be present.
- MAKING BREAKFAST / PACKING LUNCH
Your job is to make sure there is food in the house so that your teen can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.
How do you know if they’re eating a well-balanced lunch? You don’t.
You know what you have “in stock” and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and you will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Start practicing now.
- DELIVERING FORGOTTEN ITEMS
Parents know this one all too well. You’re halfway on your commute to school, and Lisa has forgotten her chemistry homework. You’ve just gotten to work, and Randy texts that he left his gym shoes at home.
But, after the first couple times, not your problem. If there are no consequences for them absentmindedly fumbling through their morning with no regard for what’s in their backpack, then how’re they ever going to learn to “take inventory” before they leave the house?
Parents – don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Often times, this also allows kids to see that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.
- DOING ALL OF THEIR LAUNDRY
“Did YOU wash my jeans?
This response always backfires on the teen who forgets that they, too, know how to do laundry. Every once in awhile a child needs a healthy reminder that their parents do not work for them.
Develop a system – maybe you do the washing and they put clothes away. Or perhaps they each have their own laundry day and can handle the task from start to finish. Whatever it is – make sure they’re involved. You’re not doing yourself any favors by having your college aged kids bringing home their laundry on the weekends because they never had to do it themselves.
- FIGHTING THEIR BATTLES
If your child has a problem with a teacher or coach, it’s their responsibility to take charge. There is no way that you, as a parent, should be emailing a coach or teacher about something that should be resolved between the authority figure and your child.
Don’t be that over involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask your advice how to best proceed.
- MAKING THEIR PROCRASTINATION YOUR EMERGENCY
School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, the notion that parents should run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished for their capable teen is absurd.
In order to prevent this, you may want to keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child, but, DON’T race to Hobby Land for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.
This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?
If your parenting goal is to raise competent adults then work on areas where your teen needs to stand on their own two feet.
We know this is your baby and it’s hard to let go, but there’s a peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve adequately prepared them for the world outside your home.
Take a step back. Let them fail. Watch them succeed. And know it’s all a part of their journey.
Parenting with intent.