I had the pleasure of meeting life coach Caird Urquhart at a press event last October and I was very impressed by her down-to-earth approach to life, work and family. We chatted recently and she very generously agreed to share her knowledge with Mommy Kat and Kids readers through this fabulous article.
We all want our children to grow up to be confident, independent adults. Here are Caird’s top five tips for raising teenagers that will thrive in adulthood!
1. Be a mother, not a friend
Too often I see parents bend over backwards to be “liked” by their children. Let’s not confuse like with love. To be a loving parent doesn’t always mean you need to be liked. I remember when I was little I had a friend whose mom would let us do whatever we wanted. We even got to draw on the walls in one room in their house. At that time I thought how lucky she was to have such a cool mom.
Fast forward ten years. I ran into her one night at a then common teenage hangout and found out she was living in a home for wayward youth. That was the first time I was glad my mother hadn’t been my friend growing up.
The kicker for me on this subject came more recently when I was discussing with someone whether they should buy alcohol for their 17-year-old daughter. She wanted to take something to a party she was going to. Since when did being a parent equate with dropping off little brown bags to your kids? I’m no prude but I draw the line on breaking the law as a way to win over your child’s affection.
2. Let them fail
We are collectively raising an entire generation of teenagers who don’t understand what it means to fail. It starts with the “everybody gets a turn” philosophy. In today’s world, parents can often be found defending their child’s grade or their right to be on some team.
In the outside world, not everybody gets a turn and failure is part of the road to success. What separates the victors from the victims later in life is how they deal with their failures and/or disappointments.
Too often I see young adults who suffer from “I’ve been wrong-done-by-ness”. They just can’t wrap their head around why they have to work so hard to get ahead or why their employer doesn’t praise them more for their effort. I believe in order to thrive in life we must learn what we are able to overcome. Knowing our own inner strength is a truly empowering trait and a great gift to allow your offspring to experience.
3. Create a life without them
Keep living your life without your children regardless of how old they are. Granted when the kids are tiny it may be harder to steal away to do something on your own but give it your best shot. At the very least, when they start school create time for your own interests.
Let me be clear, I’m not speaking here about volunteering at the school they go to. A very honourable thing to do, but it doesn’t count for the point I’m trying to make. This is about maintaining a sense of self apart from your children.
It is valuable for you because it will help you prepare for that point when they leave. It’s valuable when raising teenagers because it promotes independence. If I hear about one more parent offering to car pool kids home from university…seriously? Not to mention texting children at school.
When do they get a chance to fend for themselves? You need to really think about whether your actions are supporting your child’s sense of self or your own.
4. Beware of expectations
I have seen too many 20-somethings who have gone to “certain” schools and taken “certain” courses just to please their parents. When they complete their program they don’t know where to begin looking for a job because they are already walking down the wrong road.
I had a conversation just last night with a mother who was concerned that her son wasn’t getting good enough grades to go to university. My response was “Does he want to go to university”? After a moment of silence followed by some lively conversation we concluded that he may be more suited for community college.
Education is very important. The appropriate education is even more important. As your children grow, be aware of your need to have them thrive by your definition of the word. They will have a happier life if they live by their own meaning of success.
5. Teach them about the value of a dollar
I’m not the first person to speak about the “entitled generation.” It’s an epidemic. Let your kids earn their own money even when they’re small. There is no shame in that. Is your family trying to “keep up with the Jones’s,” giving your children the best of everything including those designer jeans? If that is how you are living, that is the lesson you are teaching your children about the value of money.
This isn’t just about what it is worth, this is also about how it makes you feel. If we learn to equate our self-worth with our financial worth, then the almighty dollar will play a very powerful role in our decision-making process. Many people choose their occupation, friends, clothes and so on because of the financial status that is associated with them.
If you’re raising your teens to live this way, believing that wealth comes easily, they will be in for a rude awakening when they enter the working world.
Caird Urquhart is Founder and President of Newroad Coaching, a boutique coaching firm providing one-on-one personal and business coaching services. She is also author of 30 Ways To Better Days: How to Rally After You’ve Been Dumped.