Teenagers and Self-Regulation
By this point we have pretty well established that I am a strict, rule enforcing, consequence doling kind of mom. I approach each parenting decision with the end result in mind. I’m not big on sleepovers, I monitor play dates and regulate a lot of content my kids are exposed to.
And then high school happens.
And you’d think I’d been abducted.
I relax my rules and overthinking each choice and fall back on the foundation I’ve laid over the course of their life.
My reasoning is this: you do not learn to resist temptation or develop self-control by having never been tempted. This is why I do allow my teens to make their own choices in regard to activities and events that they want to go to. I know what happens at a lot of those “hang outs”. The drinking, vaping and the hooking up. (excuse me, taking a barf break)
A pastor and speaker I like, Kris Vallotton, says, “every time you are tempted and resist, character is formed.” I have taken this to heart.
In order to extend this leash to my teen, we have to talk, a lot. About the hard stuff, the gross stuff, the scary stuff and the natural consequences. It isn’t comfortable. The first few talks we had about adult content was around 11 and he was in disbelief that I was so calm. I reminded him, Mama knows a thing or two about life. Knowing that I can shelter my teens in this house, but cannot shelter them in college and beyond, leads me to allow them to get their feet wet with decision making now, while I’m here as a safety net. After all, we all went to college with that kid that was never allowed to do anything and then just goes CRAZY once they are free.
A few criteria I give to my teens for open communication and a lengthy leash:
1. I will go through your phone whenever I feel I need to.
2. You will have Life360 app on your phone and I can always see your location
3. I will never be relaxed with sexting/ internet/ pornography or social media violations. (Teen tech blog coming soon)
4. You lie once, you have chosen to change the relationship and its terms.
5. You in any way prove that you cannot handle the responsibility of making good choices, I’m taking the reins back. (This obviously includes substance use and illegal activity- with teens, you have to state the obvious)
6. I will always act in your best interest and safety.
7. No, you cannot sleep at a friend’s house, you only want to sleep there because their parents are more lenient than yours! Your friend is welcome here.
Parenting teenagers today is absolutely no joke. I’m sure it never has been, I personally was an absolute terror. However, the stakes today are much higher and more permanent. The evolution of the internet and everyone having a recording device on them at all times has significantly upped the ante. Since we cannot change the changing world, we have to equip these kids with the ability to self-regulate and make good choices.
This stuff isn’t easy. It is the very hard work of raising kids into excellent people. We can do it. One talk at a time, one day at a time.