Parenting isn’t an easy task. Parenting teens during a crisis feels overwhelming. Here are some reminders for parenting teens during a crisis without losing your sanity.
The year 2020 has thrown us all into something in every area of life. And while nothing about parenting a teen is easy, parenting during a crisis, takes it to a completely new level.
Remember when we thought parenting toddlers was hard?! LOL
Even in the most calm and boring life phases, parenting teens is so different than parenting little ones.
With babies, it’s not much more than cuddles, changing diapers, cleaning and feeding.
As babies grow into toddlers and then become preschoolers, parenting becomes more of a logistics and task game. Time is then spent more on things like meal prep and clean up, teaching manners, letters and numbers, potty training. Learning to walk and then later ride a bike.
There are scrapes to kiss and teeth to brush.
Older kids involve homework, rides to activities and carving out time to connect and hang with friends. They need you for most of those things, as you need to meet parents and serve as the sole source of transportation.
Then come the teen years.
They’re self-sufficient, mostly. They start driving or having friends who drive and are wanting to have the freedom to go out and explore the world on their own.
They need reminders about schoolwork, curfews, eating well, and getting in the occasional exercise.
In the teen years, parenting can become more of a worry game.
The focus moves toward mental health and safety, navigating friendships, and doing well in school. In a time where social media, television, and technology shape their thoughts and impact their actions, mental health is so important.
As they begin to enjoy more freedom, there can be late nights worrying about your kid, who has only been driving a short time, waiting for them to return home safely.
You may grow concerned when they start a relationship and hope they’re making smart decisions. You even want to guard their heart to prevent them from feeling the first time it will break.
Teens are wonderful humans, but helping them transition into adults can require a lot of work and a lot of patience.
Add to that a crisis such as a pandemic.
Parenting teens during a crisis is tough on everyone
Trying to keep smaller kids occupied, home-schooling the best you can while maintaining your own job, and explaining that we can’t go to the park or have a playdate. It is difficult.
The problem with teens, however, is that they do understand, and are very aware about what is happening.
And while they know something is going on, they don’t have the perspective that life and experience has given us.
Teens can’t be distracted with schedules and walks around the block, and family movie nights.
Teens’ brains are working and their hearts are hurting. They know why they can’t see Grandma and Grandpa and why hanging out with their friends is on hold. They’re processing this like an adult and yet they’re not quite capable of doing so. They just don’t have a lifetime of perspective on their side.
Seniors have missed prom and graduation. And the other teens are missing hanging out and sleepovers with friends. They are missing time during what they have been long told will be some of the best years of their life.
Parenting teens during a crisis is a lot to process on both ends
While many parents are struggling to stay afloat mentally and financially during a crisis, adding the mental health of your teenager into the mix can be hard. But it is essential.
You can do it!
Some people find a strict schedule for their teens helps. It may involve being up at a certain hour, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and then off to do schoolwork.
With even more free time on hand, limiting screen time, and increasing family time spent together, to help gauge where they are and how they are feeling. And possibly even keeping a somewhat normal bedtime.
Other households find that letting the routine go out the window works for them. Allowing time spent at home to feel more like an extended Spring Break.
Allowing the teenagers to sleep in, stay up late, and even indulge in more junk food.
The shock, sadness, and worrisome feelings that have come on as a result of quarantine has caused us all to do some things a little differently and out of the norm.
I am here to tell you, there really is no right or wrong here.
Here Are A Few Suggestions To Help With Parenting Teens During A Crisis
Be a Friend
The best way to parent teens during a crisis is to become more of a friend with a side of parenting.
Have open discussions with your teenager often.
Because you guys are probably spending more time together than before, and they have less time with friends, allow them the space with you to talk and open up about their thoughts and feelings..
Allow them to not only discuss their feelings, but also work through their thoughts during this time where normal life as we know it has been paused.
To help provide structure and have an understanding, make lists. Lists can be simple but help to serve as guidelines to help everyone be on the same page.
Doing this together while sitting with your teen allows them to feel involved and also as if they have some sort of control.
Create a simple list that will show your teen what they need to do every day, and maybe even every week.
This will help maintain some order and routine in the home.
As an added bonus it may help to uplift your teen’s mood, particularly if they are motivated by accomplishing things.
Here is a sample of what a simple list could entail for your teen during quarantine:
- get up by 11 am (weekends let your teen sleep until noon)
- make the bed
- do one chore
- work out 20 minutes (walking and trampolining count)
- ten minutes outside time, minimum
- handle laundry for the family or their clothes
- tidy their room once a week
- walk the family dog, if you have one, at least 2 times week
- keep up with homework. Grades don’t count, but the work does
- drink 32 oz of water before any other beverage
- take a vitamin
- do some drills for sports, if your teen normally participates in sports
- eat a vegetable
This may seem a little too simple for a list, but remember your teens are suffering during this crisis as much as you are. Giving a little lead way with things will help keep them motivated to stay on track all the while allowing them the opportunity to process their feelings of what’s happening.
Your main concern should be your kids’ mental health. Which leads to my next point.
Focus on Mental Health
The main concern for parenting teens during a crisis should be your kids’ mental health. You’ll want to help them feel grounded and safe.
Spend time with your kids playing games, stargazing, watching the sunset, and doing puzzles, or anything that brings joy and happiness. It’s important to bring some laughter into the home as often as possible to uplift your kids’ spirits.
If needed, look into counseling options to allow them to have an outside person to talk to as well for those things they may not want to talk with you about.
Parenting during a crisis is new to all of us. Those of us parenting now, most likely have not had to parent through a crisis of this magnitude.
Looking for a good book to read on parenting teens? Check out this book on Amazon using my affiliate link Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp.
My hope is that these tips shared today will help you find a balance in parenting teens during a crisis.