Before you start reading this you may wonder, why am I taking parenting advice from a 23 year old who isn’t married and doesn’t have any kids of her own. While I am not a parent, I am giving you the view that you’ll probably never get honestly, the side from the kid.
Don’t Just Say No: This is a hard one. You want to give us the world, protect us and make sure we have everything we need. It’s better if you trust us (like my parents do) and let us make our own mistakes. If you keep telling your kid “no you can’t wear that” or “no you can’t go there”, guess what they’re going to do? That’s right there going to figure out how to “wear that” and “go there”. Instead make sure that they know you trust them, saying okay you can do that and if you need me, if anything goes wrong I am here for you. Plus by saying no all the time, your kids just won’t ask anymore if they know what the answer is going to be. They’ll start making up lies to tell you so they can go where they want and wear or see who they want. Even for adults trust is a really hard thing to develop, so developing it early between parents and the kids goes beyond high school, it’s for the rest of your lives.
No Questions Asked: We had a policy growing up, we could take the car on weekends as long as if something went wrong or if we needed our parents we could call. Any time of night, for any reason – no questions asked. The most important thing is that everyone is safe, no one got hurt and probably a lesson was learned. My brother, sister and I almost never needed our parents to come get us at 3 in the morning in a random place, but it was always nice and comforting to know that if we needed them they’d be there. We weren’t totally on our own if something went south. Plus it builds the trust that you’re all on the same side and it’s not this horrible consequence if we tell you we did something wrong.
It’s Okay to Say the “A” Word: Especially for high schoolers, alcohol is something that they are faced with. Parents, don’t worry so much about this. The more you tell them this is bad don’t do this, you can’t drink- they’re going to be interested in why they can’t, what’s so bad about it. Plus, you keep pushing for them to not try it while they’re at home, with friends you’ve probably seen or driven somewhere and with parents you may know from sports or school functions- that means they’re going to try it when they get to college with kids you don’t know, from families you’ve never met, in a place that is foreign to both of you. Not safe. Encourage them to be smart about it. No drinking at a bar at 17 isn’t safe. Driving drunk is NEVER okay. And don’t push it too far, just enough to try it and have a good time. Trust me, they’ll get to college and it won’t be this big mystery that they need to spend a lot of time exploring because they’ve already tried it. And they’ll be able to control themselves while they’re still making friends and learning their way around.
It’s really these three big things that helped me to see that my parents, while yes they had the final say on things and yes I checked with them before making any big decisions, were 100% in my corner. If I need advice, help or just someone to drink a beer and relax with it’s not just my friends I can go to, it’s my parents. Try these three things and your kids might see you a little differently.