Less of Me, More of We
Adolescents are eager to separate themselves from their moms and dads. It’s a normal part of their development, not a judgement. They don’t want to feel powerless. In fact, they love feeling autonomous: having choices and feeling in control. This is why, I am a huge proponent of collaborating.
Shared decision-making surpasses top down rulings. No one wants to be bossed around, least of all an adolescent! And no parent wants the emotional fall out from a rift or unnecessary conflict. Collaborating invites ideas, requires listening and trust, and results in an agreed upon plan.
Here’s an example of how it works with setting a school year bedtime.
Ask your child to research how many hours of sleep kids her age need each night. You’ve just made her an expert. When she reports the number of hours, ask her to do the math. Have her figure out what her bedtime would be, keeping in mind get up, get ready, and departure time. She’s just set her bedtime.
Next talk about the details. You’ll wonder what 9:00, for example, means. Is it in bed with the lights out? Does it mean taking a shower before bed or in the morning? Does it mean reading for a while, and for how long? In identifying and agreeing on these things together, both of you know exactly what bed time means. It’s easy for your child to hit a well-defined target.
Finally, you or she will realize that revisiting her bed time may be necessary on school nights with practices, clubs, and games begin. More planning, talking, and figuring it out together. More including her on decisions that affect her.
The wins are many: fewer nightly conflicts, your actions tell her you care, value, and trust her, and you can move forward together making decisions on chores, grades, screen time, and more.
Have a great school year! I’m here to help you you.
All the best,