Raising Teenagers and Self Control
Are you aware of your control issues – when the problem is more about you letting go than whether or not your teen is doing things well?
Do you ever find yourself noticing that the issue is more about your control issues than whether they are doing the right things?
In this article, I am going to talk about our own control issues- and how it gets in the way of raising teenagers well.
We know that teenagers need some self-control, but how are we doing with the self-control battle that we have when we are raising them?
I hope this article inspires you to be an example of self-control to your children and mirror what you want them to do for themselves.
If you have older kids, don’t worry, this still applies. If you have younger kids, this will help prepare you, and if you are smack dab in the middle of teens right now- honey, this article is for you.
With teens comes so many new things: Sports, college, life goals, testing limits, tech issues, dating, and a host of other things.
When my teens were young- I desperately looked for older kids that could keep my younger kids from doing dumb things, and now my children are the ones that are preventing the younger generation from killing themselves with their crazy stunts.
Honestly, as of now, I love the teenage years. They have been really kind to our family, but they can also be challenging, I understand that.
They require a different level of self-control as a parent. They require a little different emotional investment than when they were little- in order to steward them well.
In this article I am going to discuss two ways that I have to demonstrate self-control as a parent so that my teens have the opportunity to grow up as wisely as possible.
I am not here saying I get it all right- I am still in the thick of it- but build a framework around these concepts and you will see immediate benefits.
So, the self control tip number one:
1. Become a coach:
Look, I am not kidding, I know this is my profession and I do this as my business, but I am not saying that you need to treat it as a business. If you want to raise teenagers well, however, you need to learn the principles and the concepts of what it means to become a coach.
As a mom of littles it was my job to tell them what to do, but the older they get- I can see my role changing.
If I want them to be able to make wise decisions on their own when they leave, I have to let them practice on their own- while they are here.
This can only happen by asking good questions instead of telling them what to do.
Becoming a coach helps you learn how to help someone else get clear on the vision they want.
It is giving them the tools to figure out what they want, in a safe environment.
Helping them figure out the path that they want to take to get there, and then reflecting back to them how the actions that they are taking either align or don’t align with the goals that they set.
Ideally, all through the process of good questions.
A coach is what I like to call a “space holder.” We hold space for other people to do their work. We create a safe environment for people to wrestle with big difficult decisions or emotionally packed decisions.
We gradually grow into more and more of a mentor for our children as they grow older, and less and less of the “I am in charge, and I dictate what goes.”
It can be scary right? When we hand the reigns over and they immediately make a silly choice or something we know will cause pain, we want to yank them back and say, “Nevermind, you are not ready for this decision”.
But, this isn’t actually going to help them learn or grow.
It takes self-control as a parent to watch a child stumble.
If you want to hear some situations that cause some serious self control on my part – listen to this podcast.
Side note, don’t have three kids with their learner’s permit. It’s a bad idea.
Listen, I get it you want your kids to choose well, and choose things that are responsible. But honestly, insisting that they choose the way you do- is not the way to get there. This time has passed.
This was the little kid years, it was the little kid years when we set the standards, and now is the time to advise. Let them choose some things and then ask them how that choice either did or did not help them towards their goal or intention.
The younger they are- the less decisions. The older they are the more the decisions are theirs to make.
This skill, this transition is this something you learned how to do as a parent. Is this training that you see on a regular basis?
Even growing up as the oldest of seven children, with parents that were good Godly Christians, I don’t feel like I got well educated on that transitional process. There is not nearly as much content out there for parents to do this transitional period well, as there is for training little kids.
I am telling you, that is why I got into coaching. Coaching offers me strategic skills that I need to help my children transition through these teenage years.
Listen, if you want the skills and support to do this well I encourage you to apply for Supermom School. You will learn the skills that you can implement with your kids right now as they grow. If the program isn’t for you, then just take the first step: learn how to be a great question asker.
The self control needed for this stage of the game is unbelievable- but so worth cultivating.
2. Keep Your Mouth Shut
Children, whether they act like it or not, want to please you. They have grown up feeling the pressure of needing to obey. If you told them it was their choice, and then you go back and start gently explaining why this other choice is really the best one- you are sending them mixed messages.
You have told them already- now you have to shut up and let the chips fall as they may.
Trust God to work in this situation for their good in their life.
When we tell our kids that we are releasing them to make a decision on their own, what we are actually saying is that we have decided that the lesson of making thier own choice is a higher priority in this moment than making what we think is the right choice.
When we get scared and manipulate the situation a little bit, what we are actually telling them is, “Nope, you really do need to do it my way,” or, “I don’t actually feel you are ready to make this decision,” or, “you can only please me if you do things my way.”
We have to be careful and have self-control as parents, and be intentional. If we decide to let our children choose- it is self-control and intentional self-control as a parent to step back and let them make the decision.
We are not in the business of creating robots. Wisdom is making decisions and learning to navigate the consequences of those decisions. Unfortunately, the only way this can happen is after making a few dumb decisions.
You have to have the self-control to let that happen. Let them make that dumb decision.
The beauty is there is no better time to do this than when they are under your roof.
You are there and can talk about it, discuss things, and they can try again.
It’s easy to feel like these decisions are potentially devastating choices.
But are you considering and comparing them with the fact that you have the opportunity to allow them to struggle with these decisions while you are here to help them? Let them learn before they are out on their own?
Let them learn first hand the blessings and curses of what they choose to saturate their minds with, while its stupid and still comparatively easy to adjust, while the stakes are not so high.
It may look scary, but it is less scary while they are in your home.
It is important that we don’t keep everything so locked down that the first time they encounter temptation is this huge enormous difference in the world.
It takes self-control to stay present while they fumble the ball.
Letting your child fail a class is hard to watch, watching them fight the battle of inappropriate internet use is challenging, letting a teen squirrel around on responsibilities they have and watching them sit out from an anticipated event is painful.
We’d like to turn away or stick our head in the sand, or completely control it- or not be involved altogether.
It is a challenge, but I challenge you to remember that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self control. Self-control is required to stay present in the midst of the pain- even when we see it coming- and not fix it.
It is a gift that we can give our teens. They are not going to see it as a gift right now, but it is.
We can be their cheerleader, we can remind them of what they are going for. We can be present with them in their good choices. We can be present in their failures, and encourage them that they tried or that they are learning a lesson that is going to pay off in the future. It is not a failure, it is the progress of success.
Now listen, I am not saying we don’t repent of sin- that is part of learning and growing too. “Hey I messed up- I did something I know I am not supposed to as commanded by my heavenly Father, and I am going to stop and go through the process of asking forgiveness.” Making repentance something that is normal to our children is also great self control.
This is part of the process.
Self-control includes letting them fail now- it feels as though the stakes are high but compared to 10 years from now- it’s nothing.
If they learn the lesson now- it is a gift, and if they don’t learn the lesson now, it’s still a gift that you gave them the opportunity to learn it early.
Our children become accountable to God all on their own- this is worth remembering.
Sometimes as parents we take this all on ourselves, but it’s not all on us. Yes, we can present them with opportunities. We are required to show them the direction to go, but the results of their choices – that is between them and Jesus as they grow older.
Just like God works on us for our whole lives, he works on them their whole lives.
Often our desire as a parent is to do our job in such a way that our children never have to suffer. We get into that habit when they are little and we hold on to it. But actually, I am learning this is a recipe for failure.
Our job is to teach them to persevere, and that requires pain, and struggling.
We don’t have to intentionally create difficult situations, they will come. We can have the courage and self control to allow them to walk through those situations without feeling the need to fix it so we will feel better. This applies to spouses as well, by the way. They are their own person.
So, what is one thing you can choose today in order to have self-control and respond to your children (or spouse) well? If you would like more tips and training and more accountability in this area- I encourage you to apply for Supermom School. Enrollment is now open, and it is exactly the guidance you are craving.
Parenting is a place of joy, peace, and confidence- I invite you to join us in Supermom School, but more than that I invite you to embark on this journey of becoming a good coach for your kids instead of just continuing to parent them as you do your little children. Don’t kick this down the road- the benefits of starting now are exponential.
Start today. Leave me a comment to let me know how you have practiced one of these aspects, and don’t forget to check out Supermom School – enrollment is only open for a limited time.