5 Tips to Surviving Your First Teenager

I'm sure you were thrilled when you had a "first born" and got to experience the wonder and excitement of being a parent for the first time. You had plans and dreams of raising a kind, intelligent and all around wonderful person. Then one day you experienced the realization that you were suddenly raising your first teenager and that, as they say, is a whole other ball game. Who is this moody, angry, rebellious child? Where is your sweet, happy, loving baby? I hate to break it to you but that baby is long gone.

When my first born became a teenager I thought that we would be friends, that he would confide in me and trust that Mom always knew best. In reality he decided I was extremely stupid and knew nothing about parenting. Over the past five years (he's 17 now!) I've learned several helpful tips for surviving your first teenager. You can't rush them past the tough teenage years, but you can work through them together so that when your firstborn becomes an adult you will feel that you've done a great job and that you've raised someone you are proud to know.

1. Admit when you are wrong

No, it doesn't happen often but when your gleeful teenager proves you wrong be woman enough to admit it. This does tend to boost the teenage ego and obnoxious know- it- all attitude temporarily. But hopefully your teen will refrain from doing the "told ya so" dance. If he does dare to do that, store up the indignity you feel and make sure he gets it right back; after all he's wrong much more often than you are.

2. Realize that your baby is becoming an adult

He is stuck in that hard to navigate area where he is trying to be independent but he still needs permission to do the things he wants to do. How can he be responsible for his actions if you never let him take some chances and learn things on his own? I know it's hard Mom, but let him mess up once in a while otherwise he'll never learn to be a responsible adult.

3. Listen to your teenager

On the rare occasions he decides to seek you out it is important that your teen knows that if he needs to talk to you that you are there. Even if the two of you don't agree on what you talk about the communication is the important part. So be there and be available, but don't force yourself into his business, after all he's almost an adult. I've had to learn that there are some things he won't come to Mom with and that most of the time his friends are his sounding board.

4. Learn to compromise

While there are some things you just can't give on, there are ways to make it seem as if you are giving your teen the freedom and responsibilities they want without simply turning them loose. You don't want your teen to think he can negotiate everything, but when my son comes to me with something that would be an automatic "No" I try to offer an alternative and work with him to agree on something that works for both of us.

5. When all else fails, look inward

When my teen informed me that I "just don't understand" his life, his feelings, his pressures during a long drawn out argument I was at the end of my rope. I retorted that he doesn't understand mine. Then I thought about what I had said and I changed my approach. I said "Son, I can remember being a teenager; I do understand. But I've never raised a teenager before so I'm just doing the best I can. I love you and I want to be the best Mom I can be, but honestly, I'm clueless. I'm flying by the seat of my pants." The speechless look he gave me told me that I had finally broken through. Since that discussion we have a much calmer and understanding relationship on both sides.

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