Next week, your 12-year-old will reach an amazing milestone: They will have a birthday, and in doing so, will become an official teenager. While part of you is excited for your teen-to-be and the exciting changes that will happen during the next several years, you also want to hold onto the past and remember your kiddo as your “little boy” as long as possible.
In order to help both you and your teen navigate the teenage years as smoothly as possible, consider the following tips:
Allow Independence — to a Point
As WebMD notes, being a teenager means discovering one’s own identity, which might be different than what you had in mind. As much as you can, allow your teen to be independent and accept them as they want to be treated. Of course, if your teen starts hanging out with friends who make a lot of bad decisions and their grades start to drop significantly, you can and should step in as a parental figure. But, as often as you can, step back and give your teen some space to grow up.
After years of doing all the cooking and laundry for your kiddo, it’s time they start learning some basic life skills. In addition to teaching your teen how to use the washer and dryer, as well as the stove and oven, provide them with additional resources and tools they can use to become more self-sufficient. Provide them with some cookbooks, while encouraging them to choose some recipes they may want to try making.
Another great example of learning self-sufficiency involves one of the biggest milestones of one’s teenage years: learning how to drive. Besides spending time in the car teaching your teen the basics and registering them for professional driving lessons, provide your son or daughter with interactive and free learning tools, like those found on driving-tests.org and which they can use on their own schedule. In particular, the website will help your teen prepare for their permit test, especially in a busy city like New York, where learning to drive can be especially stressful.
Remember, They’re the Teenager, Not You
Sometimes, in an effort to either relive your teen years or redo them in a better way, moms can live a little too vicariously through their teens. From registering them for sports or other activities in which they have no interest to being a helicopter parent, it can be difficult for moms to “let go” and allow their teen to choose their own activities. Remember, you’ve had your chance to be a teenager, and now it’s your child’s turn. Give your teen permission to grow up and pursue their own interests — not the ones you’re forcing upon them.
Teach Them About Money Matters
As Natural Papa notes, now is the time to start focusing on money management, including the importance of budgeting, saving and paying bills. While most newly-minted teens understand money does not magically spit out from an ATM, they might not truly understand the concept of making ends meet, avoiding credit card debt, and realizing how many bills they must pay each month. Before you know it, credit card companies will come calling for your teen, and they may need a part-time job to pay off any outstanding debt. So, before they head off to college and enter the real world, take any opportunity you can to teach your teen about money management.