Posts Tagged ‘self care’

Maintaining good boundaries as the parent of a teenager is important.  Boundaries are about maintaining good self-care and setting limits on how much others can put on you or take from you.  Having clear and healthy boundaries can help you avoid a lot of problems in relationships because others know what to expect from you and know your limitations without taking things personally.  As you well know, teenagers can be very self-absorbed which is a normal based on their developmental stage.  This self-absorption can really push the boundaries of others, and especially of parents, if there are not clear boundaries in place.

Below are some examples of how boundaries of parents can be tested by their teens along with suggestions for helping you maintain good boundaries during this challenging time:

1.  My teen is always running late and throws off my schedule.  This can make parents feel like they can never be on their own schedule because their teenager is always dictating when they need to be dropped off, picked up, etc.  In these situations, you can maintain good boundaries by clearly stating what time you will be leaving to go out or what time you will be available to pick them up.  If your teenager is running late, you should still leave at the previously stated time and do this consistently.  Of course the first time or two your teen will be very upset, however, you can remind them that you will be continuing to leave when you say you will and suggest that they try to get themselves ready a little bit earlier.  It is amazing how quickly they will respond!

2.  My teen will not get up in the morning and I end up having to go into their room 10 times to wake them up.  I have heard this over and over again from parents who feel like their morning is ruined every day because they are nagging and badgering their teen to get out of bed.  In this situation, you should tell your teen that you will come into their room one time to help remind them to get up for school and that if they miss the bus, they will need to walk or use their own money for a cab ride to school.  Again, the first time your teen misses their bus and needs to pay for a cab or walk they will be irate and blaming, however, they will quickly get the message that you will give them their one reminder to get up and that is it.  This will result in you having time for yourself in the morning rather than being so focused on your teen who is likely fully capable of getting up and ready on their own.

3.  My teen always wants more money for things they “really need”.  This is always tricky because teens feel like their parents have a never-ending supply of money for them to use.  When parents do not set a boundary on this, it can lead to excessive nagging and badgering from teens who are always going to want or “need” one more thing that costs money.  One of the best ways to manage this is to have an allowance system with clear chore expectations.  Teens should be reminded that they have their own money for certain things (parents should be clear about what they will and will not pay for ahead of time) and that they will need to save for these items or wait for a holiday or birthday if appropriate.  Being consistent is the key to maintaining good boundaries in this area.

4.  My teen puts me on the spot in front of their friends.  Let’s face it, teens are good at getting what they want.  One particularly effective technique they use is asking for something right in front of their friends, hoping that you will be more likely to say yes.  This could be asking to have the friend stay over, asking for a later curfew or asking for a few dollars.  The best way to maintain good boundaries around this is to not let it happen at all.  I have worked with parents who have learned to say, “as you know, these are not decisions we make on the spot like this so I will have to say no for now until we can discuss it privately”.  Keeping a friendly tone and being consistent will result in your teen no longer setting up this dynamic.

5.  My teen says they will help out around the house but they never do.  This can be very frustrating and often results in parents doing the chores their teens were expected to do because they cannot tolerate them not being done.  A couple of suggestions for this situation are:  1.  Implement an allowance system and ONLY give the allowance if the chores are done as you have agreed upon.  For example, if the trash is supposed to be taken out on Wednesdays and Saturdays and this week your teen only took it out on Saturday when it was overflowing because they did not do it on Wednesday then they should not be receiving their full allowance.  2.  Limit what you will do if they do not do what they agreed to do.  For example, if they are supposed to clean up the kitchen and do not, tell them you will not be able to make them dinner (they can make a sandwich or have some cereal instead).  If they do not cut the grass but then expect you to drive them to their friend’s house later in the day tell them you cannot hold up your end of the bargain to give them a ride if they did not hold up their end of the bargain to cut the grass.

Some of these things will create conflict in the moment the first one or two times you set the limits and stick with your boundaries, however, teens will quickly learn your limits and will stop attempting to fight them.  In addition, most of these techniques will also teach responsibility in teens who need to learn that relationships are generally cooperative in nature.  Finally, establishing these clear boundaries will allow you to reduce your stress and have some time for yourself.

Go to www.HowToParentATeen.com for a FREE audio program with specific techniques for parents of teenagers.  These tips will help with behavior, communication and your overall parent-teen relationship.

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You start your weekday early, rush around in the morning to make sure everyone and everything is running on schedule.  Whether you work or are a stay at home parent or both…you run errands, complete a “to do” list that is probably bigger than it should be, you try to squeeze in a couple healthy meals and if you are lucky maybe even a little exercise and now your day is just beginning!  Your kids come home from school and they want this, need that, don’t want to do this, don’t care about that and on and on.  All the while, as they go through the house they leave their shoes in the living room, backpacks in the kitchen, an empty glass on the counter and they can’t understand why their favorite sweat shirt that they lived in all weekend is not washed and ready for them to wear to school tomorrow.  They want to know what is for dinner, when you can sign them up for drivers ed and if they can have a friend come over after school tomorrow all while you are trying to get through your own email which you have not gotten to in a few days.  Sound familiar?????  Any parent in their right mind should be on overload at this point…but my guess is that you just keep going.  You keep tending to others and put your own needs and relaxation on the back burner while your stress builds and builds.  That is what you ACTUALLY DO…but what you NEED TO DO is to HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON.

Pause…breath…take a moment for you – it’s OK.  Everyone else can wait for a little bit while you have some “you time”.  It is not healthy to continue to be on auto pilot – you lose focus, miss important things and lose your ability to appreciate the moments throughout the day that are worth appreciating. You are a better person, a better parent, a better partner, a better employee and you FEEL better when you have time just for you.  The reality is that nobody is going to build in this time for you.  Your teen is not going to say to you, “Hey you know what, I want to make sure that you relax and take time for yourself…why don’t you go in the other room, grab a cup of coffee or tea and read while I sit quietly out here and do my homework so that I get an “A” on my test tomorrow”.  If that happened you would likely think you had been zapped off into outer space and wonder where you kid went.  So…it’s on you to do AND it’s on you to do without feeling guilty (potentially your biggest challenge!).

What I would suggest is that each day you start with just 15 minutes and build upon it.  Take 15 minutes that are just for you to do something you want to do just for you.  Tell your family you are going into your room, office or any other quite place and reading emails, surfing the web, reading a book or calling a friend.  Or let people know that you are going to exercise and let them know you will not be available until you are done.  Do you have a favorite show you like? Let you family know that during that 1/2 hour or hour each week you cannot be interrupted.  Do you wish you could join a local sports league or start playing golf again?  Then do it!  Do you love to bake?  Let your family know that on Saturday afternoon you will be baking so you will not be available to be the family taxi driver or for other things during that block of time.  You have to change your behavior in order to change the behavior of others (this is a powerful and true statement so go back, read it again and really digest it).  If you start respecting your time…and making it clear to others that you are respecting your time…they will start to respect it to.  You deserve this!  What can you start with – what will you do with your 15 minutes of time that is just for you tomorrow? 

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Why is it so easy to worry about taking care of everyone else while forgetting to take care of yourself?  Do you do this?  If so, you are certainly not alone.  It’s January 7th and how are all those New Years resolutions or committments you made to yourself going?

Take a moment and think, what did I do last week that was just for me?  If you can think of one or more things then that is great news!  If you cannot, then take time now to commit to doing something for yourself next week.  While being the parent of a teenager can be really stressful and time consuming (especially when combined with all of life’s other challenges and demands) the worst thing you can do is lose yourself in the process.  You MUST do things for you, you MUST rejuvinate yourself in whatever way works for you, you MUST remember that despite all the other things going on in your life, you are important and while taking care of everyone else, you also need to take care of you!

So…what are you going to commit to for the upcoming week?




Will you try to…

  • Read more
  • Take a walk and just noticing the fresh air, nature sounds, or sights
  • Pamper yourself a little by going to the spa (I did this today!)
  • Try some meditation or yoga poses or even go to a class
  • Take a nice, long bath
  • Play a sport or a gave you have not played in a while
  • Spend time cooking or baking things you enjoy
  • Catch up with an old friend
  • Go see that movie you have been wanting to see
  • Go on a date night with your significant other

There are so many more ideas – what is important is that you commit to one and make yourself a priority!  You are the parent of a teenager but you are also you.  Here’s to you!

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