The Quality Teenager: A Case Study In Parenting

What makes the quality teenager?  If you were to visit the people zoo and see what is on display you may wonder what in the world is with teens these days?  A few minutes in my world you will see that I am surrounded with them and often perplexed about the OMG, LOL and more that I am encompassed with.  I went from Blues Clues to Bieber and it has been a journey.

I crack up at not only my three teens, but also the ones who come with them known as their friends.  As they hang out and do their thing they are great to watch, listen to and try to understand.  Honestly I do not know what the hubbub is all about because the ones in my world are hilarious.  I crack up at my 14-year-old son from another mother who got hysterically excited when he saw Betty White at the movies the other day.  (Yes, the actual person, not on the screen).  I was highly impressed he knew who Betty White was.

I didn’t go to school for psychology, in fact I used my college degree to spell Pampers and Similac, but what I do know about is having kids.  Call it an intensive live in program.  I would love to tell you that I am a perfect parent but I would be lying to you.  I have a great family (just ask me) but they have hang ups and I don’t always say the right things…. it’s my human factor but I am working on it.  And what I have to remember is that my teens are working on it too.

What I can tell you is that with the teens in my world they seem to be a shining example of having purpose.  Do they have it all together, heck no, but they have explored and currently have a passion for something.  It may be the next best thing or the best thing to them but they love it.  Some great examples are the ones who play instruments or sing.  These are kids who have taken the time and energy to learn an instrument.  (In addition to the several case studies that prove that music makes you smarter it is apparent that they love what they do enough to invest time in it.)  Then there is the gal I know that has a passion for Prince Harry, so she is fun to listen to as she knows more facts about the royals than I do.  Whatever the subject, they have put in the knowledge hours behind it.

Another is serving others.  Yes, I said it, I know teens that are concerned with community.  They serve at church, volunteer to wash graffiti or teach kids how to paint.  They have found that a quality life is not just about them but also about others.  Sure my kids can fight to the death for the last pop tart, but they also can turn and give that pop tart to someone else in need when they see it.

Another observation I have made really has to do with me.  It is about choosing my battles as a parent.  I don’t have to win every one, but they need to know who the general is.  That means that maybe their room isn’t perfect but my kitchen is clean, as this is not an option.  Or maybe they can’t get the top dollar kicks at the mall but if they save up they can get that cool pair of jean on sale when they contribute half of the money because there is only so much to go around in the budget.

Let me be understood; Raising quality teens is not a war, but there is usually conflict when humans are involved….including myself.  But with the understanding that being a good human at home equals being a good one out in the real world then it is a win for everyone, because the world won’t love them as much as I do.  I have learned that a sock on the floor doesn’t define their future, but a good understanding of respect does.

So as I continue to enjoy the ride I revel in the observations.  Each year is a new season of understanding not that there is a generational gap but rather there is a bridge to understanding that I too was once a teen who needed to have structure, love but above all respect and honor…and that my friend is a two way street.

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