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Growth Parenting

Taking a Step Back to Help My Teens Find Their Grit

step back from parenting to help teens find grit

Last weekend I sat the teens down for a family meeting.  I let them know that I am taking a step back especially after our family trip.  They are entitled, spoiled, and have no appreciation for anything I do.  Therefore, I am no longer:

  1. Going to remind them of what needs to be done
  2. I will only provide for what I legally have to do – provide a safe shelter, food in the fridge, and clothes that fit them
    1. For the clothes, I am no longer buying them tons of clothes. Just enough so they aren’t naked
  3. If I don’t feel like cooking, then I will get myself carry-out but they can make themselves a meal from what is in the fridge
  4. They will contribute to the household (my son has started to but my daughter isn’t.  She just turned 16 so she just applied to a bunch of jobs) for things like phone bill, extracurricular activities, pets, gas, etc.
  5. There will still be consequences

When I finished, their mouths were open in shock.  My daughter responds, “Wait, what are we supposed to eat if there is nothing in the fridge but bread?” I told her, “The same thing I ate when I was young and was in the same predicament. Bread and butter.”

We continued the discussion in family therapy.  Family Therapist asked them what they thought.  My son went first.  He said that he can see why I am frustrated and that I have done a lot for them throughout the years. They are almost 18 so they need to do it on their own.  My daughter followed up that is true and it’s time for them to start doing things as well.  It was nice to know that they also saw the benefits of me moving more to the background.

The Family Therapist turned to me and said this is a good thing if I stick to it.  I agreed and told her that I plan to.  It’s time that my teenagers learn to be independent without me present. I reminded them during the session that this doesn’t mean that I won’t be there to support them. If they come to me for help, then I will be there.

When you are a single parent, you tend to overcompensate. You do not want your kids to feel different so you give them more in hopes that they don’t. My kids have always been my motivation to keep achieving in life. They are privileged kids because of my hard work. However, unlike me who appreciated all of my parents’ hard work and sacrifices, I do not feel my kids do. I do blame myself in this because my parents were way more strict, consistent, and “no-nonsense” with us.

This time I am not going to care about what others think.  When I have tried to take a step back in the past, I’ve had the School, Therapists, Family, etc. tell me that I can’t do that.  I need to help my kids. However, I feel that I am handicapping them by doing so. 

  1. They need to learn natural consequences
  2. Hard work
  3. Life isn’t easy
  4. You will fail but you have to keep trying and trying until you don’t
  5. Keep practicing
  6. Appreciate the people who help them throughout their lives
  7. Have intrinsic motivation
  8. Increase their self-confidence
  9. Be proud of their successes and failures (if they tried)
  10. Have character, guts, grit

Today my teens asked if we could get some Boba Tea, and I said no.  I will tell you that it felt damn good.


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