If the relationship you have with your teen is not what you want, it’s your fault. You are the parent, and you have been designing and creating this relationship since the day the kid was born. It is not too late to change it, but it is you who will have to change. Slow Parenting Teens provides a plan for creating a calm, fun, satisfying, and sustainable relationship with your teens.
Our culture tells us that the teenage years are real trouble and that teens are impossible. They are moody, unpredictable, unreliable, disrespectful, and unconcerned about anyone but themselves. It is their physiology, and we have to put up with it. As parents, we are convinced that we will be lucky to manage our teens’ behavior and keep them alive until they are 18. Well, it is their physiology, in part. Their hormones are going nuts, their brains are changing, and they are just plain bigger. But what is also happening is that they are pushing against our fears and expectations in a new way.
To begin with, teenagers are harder to manage than when they were small. As teens, they are significantly more autonomous, their friends are often more important than family, and parents have less information about their social lives. You may be able to call them on their cell phones, but you don’t know that they are where they say they are. They have more freedom; you have less control. These changes trigger any parent’s fears. Since you can’t really manage their behavior, you need to manage your fears.
So what are you afraid of? This is the essential question for slow parenting teens. If you don’t answer this question fully and honestly, you will always parent from the fast end of the continuum. So what? Why is that a problem? The problem is that you will have a relationship with your teen that is shut down, defensive, secretive, argumentative, and angry. And you will be exhausted. What is your alternative? A relationship that is enjoyable. You know what is going on with them, they talk to you, they value your opinions, you look forward to spending time together, you trust their judgment; you like them and they like you. These are the ends of the slow and fast parenting continuum.
In a nutshell, fast parenting is about the parents’ agenda, and it is motivated by their fears; slow parenting is about the teenagers’ development, and it is motivated by complete acceptance of the teen. In fast parenting, the parents have the authority, make the decisions, and confer judgments. In slow parenting, parents and children discuss, ask questions, experiment, and revise their ideas. Fast parenting focuses on the situation at hand, and slow parenting focuses on long term relationships. Fast parenting is reactive; slow parenting is patient and responsive. Fast parenting tends to be punitive; slow parenting tends to be supportive. Fast parents fit parenting into their schedule; slow parents arrange their schedule around their parenting. Slow parenting is a reaction to the epidemic of fast parenting.
Slow parenting involves more than time management; it requires a change of attitude. After some soul searching questions to get at your fears and true motivators in parenting, you will be ready to apply five attitudes to your relationship with your teens. The result will be a calmer, happier, and more satisfying relationship for you and your teen. As Joy V. from Colorado put it, “Slow parenting has shown me that if I want a closer relationship with my teenagers, I have to go inward and listen to my own fears so that I don’t project them on my teens.”