My family and I just got back from our epic summer road trip. We covered over 2000 miles and four states. If you want to test the strength of your family relationships just spend 37 hours in the car together. Ha! I have a quick encouragement for you today. Don’t forget to be intentional about […]
Did you know that you might be a drone parent? There is a good chance you don’t know what that means. But before I tell you, listen to this story and decide for yourself. Let me introduce you to my fictional friend Sam. He is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. He […]
I have one simple, but important question for you to consider today. This one usually causes people to pause and think. What are the strengths of your family? I believe that every family has some unique and wonderful strengths. Whether your family life is amazing or very difficult right now take a minute to think about […]
If you are a parent of a teenager then you are intimately familiar with feeling stuck.
There are many potential roadblocks in the obstacle course that is raising teenagers. This leads to many frustrating feelings and difficult questions. How did we get here and what in the world do we do next?
Here are some ideas to consider for you and your family this week.
1. Identify the relationship problem(s)
In my experience, the problems in a family are rarely the result of just one person. It is never just “my crazy Mom” as the teenager might say or just “my stubborn teenager” as a parent might say. Instead of putting blame on one person, it is important to identify where the main relationship struggles are, i.e. my marriage is good, but my relationship with my son is really falling apart.
Often times there are multiple relationships that need work. It is always a good idea to make the problem the problem and move away from thinking someone else is to blame.
2. Connect with your trusted friends/family for good advice
Long before psychotherapy was invented, people received help and healing from many sources. This would include extended family members, close friends, community elders, tribe leaders, pastors, priests and other spiritual leaders. You get the idea. Reach out to people in your support community who will listen and be helpful to you. Of course, this can be done in person and also online via email, texting & Facebook.
3. Gather your family to discuss and problem solve the issues
If you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of family meetings. Having regular family meetings has been one of the best changes I have made in my family in the last year. Even if you don’t have this habit it can be effective to plan a family summit ahead of time.
Of course, you have to be thoughtful and strategic about this. No one wants to attend a “meeting” that is going to be unproductive and end in a bunch of finger pointing. However, if you can facilitate a conversation that helps your family to creatively problem solve you will be in a much better place.
4. Find a helpful book that speaks directly to your family challenges
I will be the first to admit that parenting books are not always helpful. There are so many to choose from and often they have conflicting advice. However, if you can find a book that speaks specifically to the challenges your family is having it can make a huge impact.
For example this book might apply to you and your teenager – Overcoming Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents. Amazon.com is your friend. Feel free to ask me if I can recommend a book for your specific situation as well.
5. Get help from a neutral third party
Sometimes your best efforts do not lead to getting your family unstuck. This can be a frustrating experience for sure. You have talked to your people, tried to apply the best advice and you are getting nowhere fast. You may need some focused support from a experienced counselor. It is a good idea to find a trained teen counselor who can also do family therapy.
I am sure you have noticed that technology has weaved itself into the fabric of your family. This reality brings many wonderful opportunities as well as no shortage of stressful situations.
You know what I am talking about. I am sure you can fill in the blank as to how technology is affecting your teenager and your family.
So, how can you limit the impact of technology stress on your family?
Here are some ideas that I want to share with you today. Please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts. I would love to get your input.
1. Sign a media and/or smartphone contract with your teenager
Take the time to sit down and look at a media and smartphone contract with your teenager. This will not guarantee a smooth ride, but it will make sure the expectations are clear and everyone is on the same page. Also, make sure you are willing to follow the rules you lay out for your teen. 🙂
2. Set up protection software on computers & mobile devices
This may or may not be necessary, depending on your teen and your particular concerns for him. However, he may need an extra layer of protection to make sure he doesn’t get himself in trouble. I recommend Mobicip as a good option.
3. Have regular family meetings
It is always good to have set times to talk about how things are going in the family. You can use the time to talk about current events, relationship conflicts and other important issues. This is a perfect forum for discussing how family members are using technology and what is working versus not working.
4. Create digital free zones in your house
You can set up times and places where the family does not use technology. An obvious place to start is at the family dinner table – no texting, no smartphones, etc. You can even consider making certain rooms of the house tech free or having a family digital fast for a day or more.
5. Show interest in your teen’s life and their relationship with technology
Whether it is computer use, video games or the overheating smartphone, there is a good chance that technology is impacting your teen in significant ways. The more you can be curious and just listen to your teenager the better. If he can talk to you without fear of judgment or getting in trouble then you can support him.
6. Use your wireless carrier’s smart limits features
You can use these services to manage a variety of things. You can block unwanted calls and texts, limit data usage, limit texting, limit purchases and limit phone use by the time of day. It is very important how you implement these limits and that you do it respectfully and with clear communication.
7. Don’t take away the technology as a punishment for everything.
This is an understandable response. Technology may be the main thing that your teen values and need to sustain life (or so he thinks). It may feel like taking these things away is the only way you can discipline him. However, this approach is often ineffective. It is a better idea to use logical consequences instead, make the punishment fit the crime.
Please leave a comment and tell me how you manage technology stress in your family. I would love to hear your take on this important issue.