We've all been there. You want to be the "cool mom" or the "edgy dad". You would much rather be your kid's friend than the bearer of all things boring and lame. But we can't do that, can we? As parents, we must conform to the disciplinary role that is expected, while sometimes slipping in a little fun. Only, it really doesn't have to be that way.
Did your ears perk up a bit at that? Of course they did. Because no one quite knows how their little one goes from a clinging toddler, intent on hanging onto your leg as you move about the house, to a sullen teenager who keeps their bedroom door firmly closed. A sight that seems to speak volumes - and in sad tones at that.
The trick is finding a happy medium. If such a thing exists. You remain relatable as a parent, so that they'll actually talk to you, yet keep a firm enough tone on hand so that you can still be taken seriously when the time calls for it. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, it may be, but if you can at least try to take a step back from the overbearing side that all parents possess in one way or another, then maybe you can find at least some small way to achieve this. Take it from us, and try to cool it on the craziness, but don't keep them too far from your arm's reach or you just might lose grasp!
8 Embrace The Swearing - Well, Sort Of
Take a step back and think about this very carefully, will you? For those of us who grew up with very little boundaries, and swore our way through our adolescences, we are for the most part pretty normal adults, wouldn’t you say? Well, except for a few loose cannons, but we won't get into that.
And somehow, throughout junior high and high school, we all remained mentally unscarred from uttering some expletives around our friends. We also managed to know, miraculously, when the appropriate time was for swearing and when it was time to nix it on those handy sentence enhancers.
Don't freak out over 4 letter words so your children know when things are serious
If your child is around the junior high age, maybe even on their last leg of their middle school experience, consider opening their world to the occasional four letter word. But here's the catch - if they can successfully, and without any giggles or blushing, explain to you what the swear word means, then maybe they should be granted permission to use it with caution.
It's the age old con - give them the freedom and they won't see it as such an appealing rebellion to take on.
7 You Can Be the Cool Mom, As Long As You're Also the Smart Mom
Although it is difficult to walk that super fine line, it is totally possible. But once you get it down, don't overstep in any direction. Feel free to be relatable to your children and take a real, solid interest in the music and movies they enjoy. But at the same time, don't be afraid to discipline them if the situation calls for it. Of course there will be the fear of your son or daughter lashing out at you, but that comes with the territory, right?
The important thing to remember is that if you can make that balance between a parent who gives off a feeling of openness and non-judgement and a parent who has your best interest at heart, then your child will be as open as you are. And with the respect that comes with that relationship also includes the acceptance that discipline is still mandatory from their "cool" parents.
Show an interest in your child's interests
If your children feel more comfortable talking to you about tough situations, the less likely they are to seek another person’s perspective on sticky situations. You don’t want another teen to educate your children on issues like drugs, sex, and the law. (Most teens figure they know their rights.) Not to mention you don’t know what other households values are on these topics as well.
6 Let Those Dishes Soak Overnight
Before you had kids, the house was virtually spotless, right? You went to bed with a fresh house and everything in its rightful place, and woke up comfortably - not exhausted still. Now, though, you're finding it harder to keep everything where it needs to be all of the time. And that's okay!
If you allow yourself to give into stress about a few dishes from dinner remaining in the sink, or some sippy cups left on the counter overnight, your children will pick up on that. And if you've got older ones, then chances are you're frustrations with scattered messes will come back to them and their own sloppy habits.
Your house doesn't have to be magazine perfect everyday
Don't get us wrong, it is entirely important to keep a clean and germ-free home, but being a parent comes with not allowing the smaller things to make you sweat so much. While before you may have been quite anal about things being spotless by the time you closed the house for the night, now it is harder to maintain such an image and it's the time to accept that.
Let your children make small messes and take your time getting them cleaned up. If that basket of blocks is spilled over in the corner of the living room, chances are, she'll be playing with them again in the morning anyway.
5 Be Generous with Boundaries Instead of Stingy with Privacy
Let's all agree on something, shall we? The more you hover and the more you intrude on your children's space, the more likely they are to want to cling to any shred of privacy and shut you out as soon as possible. Instead of being instantly suspicious of them, give them a chance to mess up first.
As hard as it sounds, don't be so quick to pounce on them as soon as they close their bedroom door while having a friend over. If it makes you that nervous, compromise and keep the door cracked open, not completely sealing you out or them in.
You don't need a detailed list of your child's every waking moment
While it used to be diaries and journals stuffed under mattresses, we are now faced with Facebook pages and Instagram accounts to contend with. And they aren't quite as easy to crack when we're really aching to know some details. But let's take a moment and consider trusting our children. The more you hound them for details on what text messages they're receiving or who that boy is who commented on their beach photos, find some social media common ground to talk about together.
Show them a funny meme you just saw on your news feed or a photo that showed up on your Timehop app. Be open about your own social media and social life in general and you can expect some of the same in time. And along with it, a certain trust and respect.
4 Be Fair With Chore Assignments
When you've got three children at all different age levels, it's easy to stick the teenager with the harder tasks and be more lenient with the eight-year-old about her weekly chores. But doing so may actually cause a rift of sorts, even if it isn't immediately seen.
As you are placing more responsibility on your older child, they feel it, and they feel you almost breathing down their neck, ready to point out a flaw in their cleaning or mowing system. Sure, that isn't what you're trying to do or even setting out to do at all. But to kids, who are much more sensitive than us, regardless of their gender, we are always expecting a lot and demanding much more.
Asking for help is different from demanding it
And show appreciation for the jobs they do. If your child isn’t doing something right, show them gently how you do it and tell them if they find a new way to do this chore that they’re welcome to do it their way. Remember your children are still your children, not your employees.
3 Remember to Give Compliment Sandwiches
It's easy to point out those low grades on your kid's report card or the amount of caked on makeup they're sporting, but when we do those things, they hear a lot more than we're saying. Instead of, "I'm so disappointed in this 'D', I know you can do better," they're hearing, "You need straight-A's all of the time and I don't want to see anything less, ever."
While we only mean well, when we urge our children to do better, they're still kids, so they have selective hearing when it comes to parents, and adults in general for that matter. They need something to soften the blow, so to speak. When it comes to grades in school, when they're doing less than stellar and they hear their parents' disappointment, it can sometimes feel as if we're expecting more of them than they can give.
Now, we know this isn't necessarily true, but like we said, kids are sensitive and as a result, super dramatic.
Letting them know you're disappointed comes out best with something positive added in before and after, softening the blow they may be feeling.
"I can't believe you brought up your grade in Science, that's great. Maybe we can work on that 'D' in Math, but you're always quick to improve when we try a little harder." To some, it may seem like you're almost coddling, but all you're doing is being sensitive to your child's natural sensitivity. And as a result, not making them feel as if you're hounding them for daily grades.
2 Don't Be So Quick To Judge Their Friendships
Bad seed. Every little group of friends has at least one. The bad influence, who always seems to be figuratively whispering in your kid's ear about what hellish deed to take on next. But sometimes, we're so blinded by our adoration for our own children, that we don't see how involved our child actually is in the planning themselves.
Sure, there are more impressionable and flower-type kids and those may be ours, but there is also the very real possibility that your kid is not the perfect little sweetheart you knew them as at four years old and are entirely capable of making terrible decisions on their own.
Don't pick your child's friends for them
And when we judge the friends or friendships too quickly, we may very well be walking into Shawn Hunter territory. You know, the bad boy best friend from "Boy Meets World"? He may have been a little rough around the edges, but he was simply neglected and he did truly care for his best friend. Think about kids like him before you're ready to force your child to dump a seemingly bad influence.
Sometimes all they need is the kind of structure and home you're already providing, so give them a chance before you insist that your kid dump them. You may be left with a sneaky teen, intent on disobeying you in order to see their friend, and in turn forced to lie to you.
1 Give Them a Chance to Make Their Own Mistakes
As parents, we eventually begin to gain a sixth sense of sorts when it comes to our children. We can predict the outcome of different actions they take and we all know that if the outcome seems negative, we want to nip that in the bud as quickly as possible. And that's natural - the desire to protect and almost hover over your child, regardless of their age.
But there comes a point where it becomes more of an overbearing presence that you're giving off rather than a protective, well-meaning gesture. Take a step back and allow them to see the consequences of their actions. Or, at the very least, let them discover the ending result of things they do.
You don't need to bust them before they've done anything wrong all the time
Just like us, they need to learn from their mistakes and grow to predict the ending results for themselves. We can't be the only psychics running around the house, you know.