Tips from ‘Been there, done that’ parents

You’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve heard, as a parent, “Treasure every moment because they grow up so fast”.

As a parent of teenagers, you have probably thought on more than one occasion, “It’s terrifying how fast time flies by”.

On it has recently been reported that, “Scientists have found that parents perceive time as passing more quickly than non-parents.”

Teenagers have to deal with a period of intense growth – physically, emotionally and intellectually. As a parent you want to make the most of this time but you also want to ensure that they become independent, responsible, communicative and well-adjusted young adults.

Here follows some tips from ‘Been there, done that’ parents who have survived the ‘teenage years’ and lived to tell the tale…

Rita believes teaching her sons independence was a key factor in their upbringing. She placed emphasis on the realities of cause and effect; they were made aware from a young age that choices have consequences. If they forgot sports gear or a lunch box at home, there was no “helicopter mom” that stepped in to help.

She is a firm believer that young people “have their own journey to follow – parents can but witness”.

Thea and Werner reminisce that it was much easier to parent teenagers (they have 2 daughters) than what people generally think.

Their daughters knew from a young age that they will always be loved, no matter what happened. They were encouraged to talk about anything and everything to their parents, and to this day it still happens. They were also encouraged to bring their friends home, rather than to go out somewhere all the time.

The couple adds that it’s vital to enjoy each other’s company. Laugh together, often, they say. Laugh when someone does something that should be frowned upon; take it in your family’s stride. Everyone makes mistakes!

Lieb reckons that trusting your children is a key aspect in their upbringing. He shared aspects of his own life with his daughters and son; and he showed them that he loved them at every opportunity.

Ben and Jill followed a strategy of not saying yes or no to a request straight away. This didn’t mean that a discussion ensued immediately but it meant that their son and daughter would often reach the same conclusion as them, as to whether what they were requesting, was a good idea, or not.

Teenagers have their own priorities, they realised. Thus they devised a strategy of giving advance warning of chores or specific responsibilities which made it less stressful for all concerned.

Ciska says it is vital to let teenagers learn from their own mistakes. The knowledge they gain strengthens them. As a parent you shouldn’t try to do everything for them. As teenagers they are old enough to take responsibility.

Annamarie says she had to learn to say “Yes!” more often than she felt she wanted to. Her advice to other parents would be: “Never over-react”, “Don’t criticise your teen’s friends – often they are aware of where they should tread carefully anyway” and “Don’t make mountains out of molehills”.

Phoebe believes in a “golden hour” spent cuddling and sharing thoughts and emotions before everyone goes to bed

Lastly, Piet summed it all up by saying he believed in three guiding principles: 1. Set clear boundaries. 2. Practice what you preach. 3. Unconditional love and respect.