Parenting is a tough job! Couples report that each phase of kids growing up years comes with its own set of new joys and new struggles, but the teen years can be particularly trying as teens test out different identities, explore newfound privileges and independence, and parents try to adjust to their child getting older and separating themselves a bit from the family. Many couples struggle with different parenting styles, but parenting your teen doesn’t have to take a toll on your marriage. Setting clear boundaries with your teens can help keep you and your partner on the same page and same side as you navigate through this difficult period.
1. Pick your battles
It can be easy to get sucked into power struggles on a frequent basis that leave both you and your teen drained, resentful, and distant from each other. Save your energy for the issues and incidents that are most important to you and your family and skip some of the less pivotal issues. Your stress levels will thank you.
2. Get on the same page
Teens can be masters in finding loopholes in established rules and structure, so it is important that you are very clear and straightforward with expectations as well as the consequences (both positive and negative) that are a result of the choices your teen makes. When you are co-parenting, it is important for all authority figures to enforce the same boundaries so your teen doesn’t get mixed messages. Spend some time ironing out how you want to approach the big issues, and then present a united front whenever possible. Remembering that you both want the same thing- a happy and healthy teen- can increase your respect and support for one other’s different parenting styles.
3. Allow your teen to give input into what is most important to them
Getting their buy-in by considering their priorities can go a long way in getting them to follow the rules in other areas. It is also important that as your teen gets older they know their thoughts, opinions, and emotions are important and valuable to their parents.
4. Keep your expectations realistic, and love your teen throughout
Testing boundaries is a normal part of growing up, so it is important to recognize that there will be times when your teen will break the rules in some way. Make sure they know that at the end of the day, you love them even if they do struggle or make mistakes, and that while there are consequences for actions it doesn’t change the fact that they are your children and you’ll always love them.
5. Make time for your marriage
Parenting a teen can be a very time-consuming task, as you shuttle from activity to activity and engage in the necessary conversations around boundaries, expectations, and increasing independence. While it is important to engage in these areas, it is equally important to nurture your bond with your partner. Make time to have fun together, have times when you talk about things other than your kids, or try new things together. Keep in mind that a healthy parent relationship translates into healthier kids, and so allow yourselves to make your relationship a priority!