I’m an intrusive parent. What can I say? I love my two daughters, my instinct is to protect them, and furthermore…I’m a bit on the nosey side. These are all good attributes to have as a dad, and self-awareness is important when it comes to parenting. That said, if I’m not careful, those things can become as detrimental as they are helpful. We walk a fine line when it comes to how involved we should be in the outside teenage relationships of our kids.
Where is that line? I created some rules, some practical do’s and don’ts, to help me toe the line. Here are my 5 do’s and don’ts.
1. Know Their Closest Friends
You should be able to name all of your teen’s closest friends. It’s even better if you can establish a relationship with their parents, too.
2. Know Their Favorite Activities
Friendships are usually made by having things in common. What are those things? Where do they like to go and with whom? What happens there? What’s the environment?
3. Make Romantic Relationships Your Top Priority
Teen romantic relationships have no business being left to the unknown. Insert yourself as a major presence, but not an overbearing one. Establish expected behavior and boundaries, and back them up with consequences. Ideally, we want to foster mutual trust so they have room to learn and grow. We do not want to cause rebellion by micromanaging. But we certainly want to firmly cement our authority. This is a delicate balance that requires a leap of trust by both parent and teen. Make the rules and then allow your teen the space to live within them.
There is no better way to get to know the people your teen is spending time with than to have them regularly in your home. Be hospitable and friendly.
5. Earn the Respect of Their Friends
Teens are far less likely to do things they shouldn’t under your watch when they have a sincere respect for us as parents. Earn that by being fair and welcoming, but by setting boundaries and expectations that have consequences when broken.
1. Try to Be the Cool Parent
Know your age and place. They will run all over you.
2. Make Yourself Arbitrator of Disputes
Stay out of the squabbles and arguments, especially with teen girls. Things change on a dime. They need to learn how to take care of these things themselves.
3. Want to Know Everything
You need to know the important or harmful things. You don’t need to know the daily details.
4. Think They Are Your Friends
They are teenagers and you are an adult. That’s reality. Don’t be fooled.
5. Be Naïve
They might respect you, love you, and think you’re the greatest parent of all-time. Yet, they’re still going to try to pull things over on you. Don’t be a sucker.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who have been your 3 greatest friends and why?”