This is a guest post by Julie Dolan, the oldest sister of the fabulous Satellite Sisters who run blogs and a great radio show that every woman should listen to!
I was a pretty good mother when my sons were young. I was particularly good at instituting naps, preparing balanced meals, and reading at bedtime, but my parental confidence started to slip away when my oldest son entered junior high. Suddenly more was required of me than arranging stimulating play dates; I had to come up with on-the-spot rulings about attending co-ed parties, going to PG-13 movies without an adult, and buying rock CDs with explicit lyrics.
For me, raising teenagers has been a humbling experience. So when a friend asked me for advice on dealing with her three teenagers, I decided to compile a very short list of what I have learned. Here are my Teen Commandments, counsel for any adult who has the good fortune to live with an adolescent.
1. Nothing good happens after midnight. There is no social. educational, athletic, or spiritual event-at least none that you want your kids participating in-that begins that late at night.
2. No sleepovers. Innocent slumber parties in the preteen years become, for teenagers, the equivalent of parent-sanctioned AWOL status for twelve to fourteen hours.
3. Just call. No matter how late the hour or how much trouble he or she is in, your teenage should always call you when they get there or when they need a ride. No excuses.
4. Only one electronic device-phone, CD player, blow dryer, computer, etc-may be operated at a time. I am not sure of the medical or scientific rationale but I know multiple electronics usage can’t be good for teenagers and it’s murder on parents. My son had the habit of simultaneously playing his electric guitar and answering e-mail.
5. No piercing, no tattoos. One of our listeners amended this commandment by adding that corrective surgeries to undo body piercing and tattoos should not be financed with family funds. Let me just say that I am in favor of hair dying. It will wash or wear out and will make a great picture to blow up for his or her fortieth birthday.
6. The presence of an older sibling does not make it better. When your fourteen-year-old says, ” Don’t worry, Mom, John’s older brother will pick us up,” just remember that John’s older brother is probably sixteen (see Commandment number 7)
7. No sixteen-year-old can actually drive a car. Oh, they have a license, they’re behind the wheel, and they’re on the road but they are not “driving” as we know it. Driving doesn’t happen until seventeen or eighteen. The first year is a total free-for-all.
8. Eat dinner with your kids. My son’s high-school principal gave me this piece of advice at the freshman orientation. I thought he was crazy, but making time for this group activity rally pays off.
9. Find your son or daughter and adult friend. Face it, you’re the parent, not the friend. So find them an aunt, an uncle, a coach, a teacher, a minister, a neighbor, or some other adult to whom they can talk.
10. Don’t forget to laugh. Someday you are going to appreciate how funny it was that your son hosted a graduation party at your house and invited everyone in the world but you.
11. Be ready. Conversation, real conversation, between you and your teen usually comes at times when you least expect it.