Raising Teens Is Like Herding Cats

Personally I’ve never herded cats, but I’d like to think I could if called upon. The reason I feel I would be qualified to do this task is because I did raise (with the help and majority of work from my bride) teenagers. I remember thinking having teenagers in my home would be a breeze, because kids up to this point hadn’t really been too much of a challenge for us; of course there were the opportunities for discipline and both my wife and I to grow in patience, but we had really good kids who for the most part were just that…kids

Something happened one day when my oldest son had been thirteen for a few months; I’m not proud of it, but it changed the direction my parenting skills would go for the rest of my life. We were cleaning the house in preparation for a get together with friends; it was something the entire family was looking forward to, and as I passed Micah’s room I heard some awful music playing. Turning to see what he was listening to, it turned out to be some type of screaming style of something people refer to as music but to me was crap and I said as much.

Not to bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say Micah and I had our first knock down drag out fight that day. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and even a little cussing on my part. Yeah, great Christian father there right, but don’t judge me too harshly, I’m sure you’ve done the same (or worse) and yes I did fix it with my son later asking him to forgive me for losing my cool with him.

What this taught me was the importance of walking in patience and learning how to choose which battles to fight; because if you were unaware of this, not all of the things you dislike about your teenager are things you need to discipline and change. Sometimes they need the opportunity to learn about these things for themselves, so back off and let them grow into the adults they are going to become.

Most parents of teens I see have a hard time letting go of their parental expectations. What I mean by this is when your kids were tiny, they looked to you to make decisions for them; what to wear, what to eat, etc. But as they hit the years when their hormones start to rage they are going through so much inside they don’t need you pushing them from the outside. Of course there are things which are non-negotiable; respect for others, authority and themselves, the basics. But something which always helped me was a quote from Princess Leia in Star Wars when she was a prisoner on the Death Star,

“The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

Mom and dad, the tighter you try to grip your teenagers world, the more they will slip away from you. I know it’s hard to admit, but you’ve got to give them a little bit of freedom. I’m not talking about letting them experience things which will hurt them like partying, having premarital sex and things like this, but give them the opportunity to experience freedom for themselves a little bit.

One of the things which happens when you hold on too tightly is when they do find a little freedom they go buck wild and end up hurting themselves. I know you want what is best for your child, but doing everything for them or sheltering them from everything doesn’t help them, it causes them to be bratty or unable to interact with other people well. They become unproductive citizens or just selfish.

One of the keys to herding cats is backing off and motivating them in the direction you want them to go; not by pushing but guiding. It’s up to you mom and dad to be a guiding influence in your teens life now, not the dictator who makes them tow the line and be like you. Just like cats, teens don’t respond well to this either.

 

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Stop Screwing Around And Control Your Kid

Several years ago when I owned my own retail shoe store; a grandmother brought her grandson in to look for shoes.  I was checking merchandise in on the computer, while my employee Jason was helping them.  This little youngster was about three years old, and decided it would be fun to start kicking a mirror which was on the front of the counter where I was working.

After a few minutes of this, the kid literally kicking the mirror over and over, I leaned over the counter and said, “Young man, you need to stop that.”  He looked up at me and then ran over to his grandmother.  I stepped into the back room to put some shoes up, and this lady said to Jason, “He’s got a lot of nerve telling my grandson what to do.”

“Well mam, he wouldn’t stop kicking the mirror, I’m pretty sure Dave just didn’t want it to get broken.”

“We don’t have to put up with this kind of service, we’re leaving!”  And she grabbed the boy and they left.  When I came out of the back room, Jason told me what had happened, and I just laughed.  I hated losing a sale, but this woman needed to learn how to control her kid.

One of my pet peeves is people who refuse to control their children.  It’s your job as the parent to see to it your little ones aren’t causing disturbances and acting up in public.  You’re the parent, so be the parent.  Stop telling your kids that someone is going to “get them” if they don’t quit misbehaving, and discipline them.

Too many parents are trying to be friends with their children instead of teaching them how they should act when they are in public.  And parents it is YOUR responsibility to do this; not teachers, grandparents, or Sunday school teachers.

If your kid acts up, get a small paddle and swat their behind with it. (Never use your hands to spank.)  And I’m not talking about abusing your kids by hitting them so hard you bruise them.  (This is actually a misdemeanor in Oklahoma.)  What I’m talking about is behavior control through the use of corporal punishment.

If your child is acting up, tell them to stop it.  If they don’t then explain to them if they don’t stop you will take them to the car and spank them.  If they persist, then take them to the car and spank them.  If you say you’re going to do something, then do it.  The worst thing you can do when raising children is to not keep your word.

Most parents don’t want to discipline because it is inconvenient for them.  I don’t know how many times my wife would leave a basket full of groceries in the store and march our kids out to the van to spank one of them.  It isn’t easy to administer discipline, because it takes commitment on your part to see it through, every time.

I know your kid is probably the exception to the rule and never needs discipline (yeah right) but if you’re  going to take them out in public, do the rest of us a favor and make them mind instead of letting them run all over you. Be the parent, grandparent or guardian your child actually needs, not the one you want to be.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?