Mothers all over the world dread hearing their teenager make the comment, “Mum, what’s the big deal? All my friends’ parents let them.” It’s a saying that makes all mums cringe every time they hear it.
Before you get into a fight with your teenager, stop and think back to when you were their age. You wanted to be popular. You wanted to do the things your friends did. And you thought your parents were too strict. They’re probably thinking the same things you thought then.
It helps if you’ve had a good relationship with your child prior to the time they reached their teen years. Having established family rules about activities and expectations is also helpful when your child starts pushing the boundaries that have been set. If you already have the boundaries set, it is easier to keep your child within them.
What are some of the family rules you may have already set? Here are some common ones:
Remind your pre-teen or teenager that they are your child and you are ultimately responsible for them. They are still minors and, according to the law, under your protection. This may sound trite, but as long as they live under your protection, they have to live by the pre-established rules.
Take some time to really talk with your teen. Let them explain why they want to do whatever it is their friends are doing. Get all the information you can about the topic before making a decision. In other words, find out all you can so you can make an informed decision based on what you know, not based upon your fears.
After you’ve talked with your child, see if there’s a way that you can compromise. Can your child’s friend come to your house where you’ll be, rather than going to the friend’s house where there will be no adults? Can you drive them to a particular location rather than letting them go with their friend? See if there is a way to give your child some freedom without completely giving in.
Let your child know how important they are to you, how much you love them, and that you only want what’s best for them. Sometimes wanting what’s best for your child means having to tell them “no” and having them not be happy with you. It’s a normal part of being a parent with a child that’s growing to adulthood.
“Mum, what’s the big deal?” is a question that nearly every mum will hear at one point before their child leaves home. Be prepared by having established rules, compromising where possible, and making sure to keep communication lines open.