Point One: Raising teen-agers can be very tough
At no other time since birth are there so many abrupt and huge changes going on with both the child and the family. Going through the passage of adolescence is one of the most difficult tasks a family will ever undertake.
What may be difficult for one family may be clear sailing for the next. I've known families who have struggled with a kid keeping curfew, and others who struggled with a son stealing the car and going to California. It may seem as if the family with the stolen car had a more serious and painful situation.
But consider this: If you have a broken thumb and I have a broken leg, my injury might be more serious, but your thumb still hurts. It's much the same way with families: They can each have their own unique pain. It's as Tolstoy wrote: ``Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. ''
Point Two: Families can get stuck
Families can get stuck on virtually any issue, big or small.
One family I know got stuck on the issue of ``reminding. '’ The parents were spending a good deal of their family time ``reminding'’ the children of what they were supposed to do next (take out the trash, feed the dog, get ready for school, etc. ).
They were stuck in a cycle of contant reminding that only frustrated the parents and angered the kids. It would take several reminders before the kids would take any action. The kids had learned that they didn't have to take mom and dad seriously until after the second or third (or ninth) ``reminder. ''
Does this scenario sound familiar?
Remember: You are stuck when you keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results.
Point Three: Families have strength for change and growth
I'm constantly amazed at the imagination, strength and creativity of families when they decide to change something.
One family I know had planned a three-day camping trip for the entire family. Unfortunately, a hurricane forced them to cancel. In the midst of their frustration and disappointment, they decided to camp out in their own home. They pitched their tents in the great room, lit their lanterns (since the electricity was out anyway) and cooked in the fireplace. They had a great time and created a great memory.
Remember the ``reminder'’ family? Here's one thing that helped them get unstuck. They had been struggling with a ``chore chart'’ as a way to remind the kids of what to do and when to do it. But I asked the parents: ``Do you remember the TV show `Bonanza'? Do you think Ben Cartwright ever needed a chore chart?'’ That forced the parents to realize two things: They had been too easy on their children, and they should expect the kids to do chores without being reminded.
Sometimes all it takes is a different way of looking at things. The last time I checked, the parents were holding firm, reminding much less and enjoying family life much more.
My challenge to parents is to use your strength and creativity so your family can grow through the teen years.
Visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring.