I wanted to talk through this idea of creative parenting. What does it mean to be creative in our parenting style when considering the lives of our kids? Here are a few thoughts that might help you think about your relationship with your teenager. This is not an exhaustive list and I would love your input on creative parenting ideas:
1. Offer choices – Parenting infants and younger kids is very different than the world of parenting teens. In the infant world things are black and white, hot and cold, cut and dry. It is a world of “do this” and “don’t do that.” Things are a bit simpler with young kids. Your kids looked to you as the ultimate authority and although sometimes you were tested it was relatively easy to help your little ones understand what they need to be doing.
As we approach the world of adolescence, you probably know from experience that the black and white world changes to often grey, white and black (with splashes of every other colour thrown in for good measure!).
Should I let my teen watch this, hang out with them, or listen to that? Should I force my teen to attend this at church or go to that party? Should I play the dictator role in this situation or should I be more of a guiding friend. All these questions play in the back of our minds as we are approached with how to parent a teen without making them resent us and turn their backs on us.
As we approach the teen years, kids want to be independent and have a sense of control of their lives. This is a hard time for many parents to transition from a somewhat dictatorship role in the family to more of a democratic role. The main goal is to continue to build into a deep stable foundation for our kids so as they enter the teen years their decisions and choices are built upon this foundation. By offering options, your teen feels like he or she has some control. Allow your teen the chance to help you in the decision making process. Not only will it foster respect, but it will also teach your teen how to make better decisions.
2. Be a planner – When it comes to your family it’s so easy to get busy with your own life that doing fun things as a family can be an afterthought. I would encourage you to sit down with your kids on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and brainstorm some fun and exciting things you can do together as a family. Plan these things out and make sure you do them as a family. Perhaps this means blocking off one night every week or every other week to spend intentional time as a family. Allow your kids to come up with some of the ideas! This will become an amazing tradition in your family and create some great lifelong memories.
3. Stay up late and talk with your teens – If you know anything about the majority of teens, you know they stay up late! For some reason teens are vulnerable and very open about their lives when discussions happen at night. Ask your kids questions, let them know you’re interested and allow them to share the things that are going on in their lives. Engage in their lives especially late at night. P.S. Order pizza!
4. Discuss your relationship with God at home – In your discussions with your teens be constantly discussing and talking about your own faith. Allow it to become a natural part of the discussion in your home. Talk about what God’s been teaching you at work or in life. Talk about what God’s been saying to you through your time with him. Discuss how God is working and present in your family. Make sure you’re authentic, real and vulnerable on a healthy level.
Would you add anything else from your experience?