This week I must have spent more than my daily time allocation (5mins) on Facebook and as a result I stumbled across an article I actually read from beginning to finish! The title called to me, “Bad Parent, Hey Bad Parent”…it works every time right? Anyway, once I started reading it I thought, no this is useful, we all need that manual that everybody talks about but nobody seems to own and I know this relates to not only the way I am bringing up my teens but I can pass on its pearls to my patients who are parents of teens as well.
My kids have been teens mathematically speaking for 3.5 years now, but I’m pretty certain, the metamorphosis happened just last Tuesday for one and a couple of months prior for the other.
So my ears pricked up when I saw this article suggesting that there are 8 things we should STOP doing immediately in order to bring up better teens.
- Waking them up in the morning – every teenager has a phone right? And yes the alarm still works on aeroplane mode & can be heard, I’ve discovered, not just from the other side of their bedroom but across the other side of the house 🙂
- Filling out their paperwork – Tick. Good riddance
- Delivering their forgotten items – it’s called consequences right?…I get that but occasionally when the consequences are especially crappy, my heart of stone cracks and I relent, I confess
- Helping them with homework – Hallehlujah! It’s been getting way too hard for me anyway
- Doing all their laundry – I’m so glad my mum gave that book on how to remove stains (pen, blood, fluff from the inevitable tissue left in pocket fiasco) from clothing a few years back. They know where to find it on the shelf 🙂
- Being their mouthpiece for their teachers and coaches – Tick. My kids sacked me a while ago when they realised they were soooooo much better at getting good outcomes
- Meddling in their academics – see above 😉
- Making their breakfast & packing their lunch – Breakfast? As long as we’re not expecting them to reach Pete Evan’s dizzy breakfast heights...Tick…Lunch??! ARE YOU CRAZY??!!!
So here’s my point. I am 100% behind teaching our kids to be autonomous healthy eaters and part of this, of course, is making room for them to exercise free will and spend time unsupervised in the kitchen but these objectives need to be thought through for best outcomes. Packet of Ritz biscuits for lunch? I don’t think so.
If you’ve lived with teens, you will have witnessed firsthand the extraordinary circadian crisis that they face. Their biological sleep phase has been delayed thanks to puberty and yet their school teachers in these senior years expect them in before school for extra classes. So, they’re technically not supposed to be awake yet according to their melatonin cues, but (gasp!) they’re already sitting at a desk listening to Extension 2 Maths theory…no wonder the recurrent nightmares of going to school naked…it could happen!! Quite simply mornings are not their best.
My other key argument against getting them to make their own lunches is this: when we put the emphasis on the lunches we run the risk of the ‘packet of Ritz’ scenario, when instead I insist that my teens make dinner for everyone at least once a week, that ain’t never going to happen! This is because they know by heart what ‘dinner’ normally looks like and the rough criteria that must be met to attract the term of ‘dinner’. In our house, that’s some form of first class protein (yes poor children they know the difference), a rainbow of vegetables and a carb if the cook is feeling generous! Lastly, the responsibility they have is not to just to themselves (oh well… I can get through to dinner on this) but to the whole mob. This is really teaching them about food, cooking, healthy eating, hospitality and (beyond) self-care.
And you know what? I have also taught them, whenever possible to cook in bulk…that way they can take leftovers for lunch the next day. Taadaa! That’s called 2 birds with one stone I think (!) but don’t tell them 😉
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