Parenting children through the teen years is incredibly tricky. No matter how you slice it.
Helping teens transition to becoming well-adjusted adults is a complex and unique process for each parent and child.
While there are no perfect formulas for parenting teens to adulthood, I want to share 5 key mindsets I’ve learned that help parents transition their parenting style through these tricky teen-to-adulthood years.
How do you transition from raising a child to mentoring a young adult? Let’s talk about that.
5 Ways to Help Your Teen Transition to Young Adulthood
1) Adjust Your Perspective of Your Teen.
Wonder why your teen wants to be treated like an adult so badly? Frustration comes in when a teen, who is trying to be an adult, feels like he is constantly being treated like a child.
It’s not just his shirt size that’s changing. Your teen is starting to look at you and the world differently, and that’s a good thing. He wants a chance for you to look at him differently as well.
Of course that’s a huge challenge for parents, especially since the line between childhood and young adulthood is incredibly fuzzy. What’s acceptable and what’s not in this in-between stage?
Your teen might be struggling as he is asked to fit into a definition that he grew out of a while ago. Talk to him about these changes and, as appropriate, let him try out some of these new aspects of young adulthood. Pray and let God’s spirit lead you through this process.
2) Give Your Teen Guided Autonomy to Make Decisions.
Teens want a chance to make decisions on their own and develop a sense of authority. This is perfectly normal and healthy.
And, honestly, autonomy should be encouraged and coached in a teen so that he can have a strong sense of independence when he leaves your home. We want to slowly wean a child from his dependance on us the parent for everything.
Teens need the opportunity to exercise their autonomy so they don’t get unleashed into a world with a defeated and dependent mindset. How can a teen ever have a sense of “well done,” if their parents do everything for them and not allow them to make a decision, fail, learn from it, and move on?
3) Demonstrate Understanding and Relatability.
Three-year-olds don’t need their parents to “understand” them. If they do something wrong, they laugh, get disciplined if necessary, and go on with life.
The complications of teen’s life aren’t that easy. Parents don’t need to fully understand the details of every situation. However, if you sit down with your teen, hear him out, and genuinely tell him you understand where they are coming from, you just gained tremendous parent points.
You don’t have to approve of his decisions, but you can at least relate to the emotions of fear, peer pressure, anger and love that may be motivating his decisions.
When you take it a step further and tell your teen about a similar situation you experienced growing up, your teens feel like he can actually relate to you (an adult) and that you understand him.
This takes more time and effort than disciplining and moving on, but the rewards are immeasurable because trust and understanding is built between you and your teen.
4) Show the Type of Love Your Teen Needs.
Parents love all their children, but sometimes one child may feel like other siblings are loved more than he is. Take a minute to familiarize yourselves with the different love languages.
You may be familiar with Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages as it relates to marriage, but his application of these principles to parenting is invaluable.
Every person is created differently. If you are displaying the same type of love to all your children, some may willingly receive it while others could even resent it. I love how Chapman’s books explore this topic in-depth.
Learning your teen’s love language will make for a more effortless transition into adulthood. It also opens up communication as trust and friendship are built on a foundation they readily embrace.
5) Respect and Work Through the Issues with Your Teen.
In many situations, teens know when they are wrong and have make mistakes. They are willing to be corrected with help and guidance.
However, we need to help our teens handle their mistakes differently than we’d help a child deal with them. You don’t reason with a two-year-old. You take quick action, issue a punishment, and fix the problem. But if we corrected a teen in a similar manner, he would get frustrated and resent the punishment. Sometimes a teen might even repeat the mistake since the coaching through to the solution wasn’t there in the beginning.
I’ve discovered that many teens are willing to sit down with their parents and have a conversation about what happened. “What did you learn?” and, “How will this be avoided next time?” are so much more empowering than, “What?! Go to your room and give me your phone!” These type of open-ended conversations also gives a teen the opportunity to exercise their critical thinking skills and learn from their mistakes.
Not all situations and families are the same. But I’ve found these principles to be extremely helpful when guiding my own teens through to adulthood.
Parenting teens is hard work that takes a lot of sweat (and prayer!). But I encourage to you work hard to maintain that role of a wise mentor as you lead your child through the teen years.
Other Posts on Parenting Teens
And don’t forget to check out Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love Languages for Children and for teens: