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Empowering Teens to Fix Their Own Problems

parenting teens

Parent Coach for Moms of Teens: Fern Weis

Does it make you feel better to fix your teen’s mistakes? After all, you’ve been there, done that. My kids are adults now, and I still get the urge.

Here’s the thing… If I do that for them, if I take away the obstacles, then I also take away their self-confidence and motivation to be creative and take healthy risks. When I take over, they get the message that they’re not capable of handling life themselves. (I learned that the hard way.) That isn’t what you really want for your kids, is it? I didn’t think so.

Here’s a personal story. When he was in high school, my son still had an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for specific learning challenges. He was also headed over a cliff, and had created his own academic mess.

Still, I was so desperate for him to experience even the smallest success, that I asked the team if they could lower the bar on a passing grade. Several years later he was able to tell me, “Mom, when you did that, what I heard was, ‘You can’t do it, so I have to fix it for you.’”

Powerful Emotions:

What a horrifying revelation! I had no intention of sending that message, and yet I did.

One challenge is that it takes time to explain, demonstrate, and guide them. You’re busy (and maybe a touch aggravated?) and it would just be easier to do it yourself. And let’s not forget the ‘fear factor’: if they fail to fix it, then what?

The two most powerful emotions are love and fear. Sometimes fear masquerades as love. You look too far into the future, and your teen veering off the path in any way feels like a recipe for disaster.

Your vision for your child is critical; however, it’s not permission to take charge and make it happen, at any cost… the cost being your child’s self-worth.

To get there, your child needs opportunities to make mistakes, pick himself back up and start over. 

Take A Moment To Do This Vision Exercise:

Imagine your child 10-15 years down the road. Who are they? How are they showing up in the world? Most parents dream of an adult who is confident, self-sufficient, happy and successful (whatever that means to them). 

To get there, your child needs opportunities to make mistakes, pick himself back up, and start over. That’s what we call resilience. Does your teen have it?

Your teen has abilities, wisdom and potential. Help him tap into his innate strengths to care for himself and find his own solutions.

Here Are Some Tips To Help You Begin The Process Of Empowering Your Teen To Grow Up:

  1. Ask yourself, “Whose problem is this?” Be honest. Take the final outcome out of the picture. (You’ve already been through HS. Homework is not your problem.)
  2. Remember that most mistakes are not fatal. They are, however, necessary for building grit and resilience.
  3. Express confidence that your teen will be able to handle it. You can offer to support, but not do it for him.
  4. Listen carefully. Accept his feelings (regardless of whether or not you agree with them). Reflect back what you see and hear. “I hear how overwhelmed/lonely/frustrated you are.”

Your teen has abilities, wisdom and potential. Help him tap into his innate strengths to care for himself and find his own solutions.

Fern Weis

About the Author:

Fern Weis is a Parent Empowerment Coach for Moms of Teens and a Family Recovery Coach. She’s also a wife, former middle school teacher, and the parent of two adult children who taught her more about herself than she ever could have imagined.  

Fern partners with moms of teens and young adults, privately and in groups. She helps them grow their confidence to build strong relationships and emotionally healthier kids who become successful adults. She knows first-hand that when parents do the work, the possibilities for change are limitless; that it’s never too late to start; and you don’t have to do it alone. Learn more about Fern at www.fernweis.com.

 

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