While normally each week on this blog I share a small act of happiness, from time to time I’ve used this platform to ask for advice in my own personal quest for happiness. This week, I ask you dear readers, to share your insights and advice on how to train a teenager.
Yes, both my girls are teenagers now, and as teenagers go, they are great kids. Respectful, hardworking, funny and driven. I love them to bits.
My beefs are small things, like not making a mess on the bathroom counter, putting their dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink, wasting food, and remembering to do chores like taking out the garbage.
A couple of weeks ago I got the garbage ready in the morning and left it at the door. All my teenager had to do was pick it up, put it in her car, and drop it off at the end of the driveway on the way to work. I reminded her twice the night before and was pleasantly surprised when she grabbed it without needing to be reminded in the morning. It turns out she forgot to stop and put it out at the end of the driveway, took it to work where it sat in her car in 30-degree heat all day, then put it back in the barn when she got home without telling me. A raccoon got into it, and I spent the whole next day cleaning up the stinky mess in the barn.
Now, as a parent, I’d rate my overall performance at a solid 5. I’ve loved my kids, I’ve been there for them as much as possible, but other than that, I’ve barely scraped by. And I’ve definitely had failing marks when it comes to training them to do things like putting their dishes in the dishwasher.
So how do you train a teenager?
I thought of treats, but making them sit and beg for Smarties or Hostess Cupcakes seems a bit degrading.
Punishment seemed a bit harsh for their transgressions and I learned early on taking their devices away is like cutting off an arm. Plus you’re really just punishing yourself since you have to put up with a grumpy bored teenager nagging you all week.
Then a few years ago, I had an evil, wonderful epiphany. I realized if I’m going to punish the little twerps for bad behaviour, I might as well get something I want out of it.
Most of the time, I’ll assign them chores I don’t feel like doing. But last week I hit a new low—I confiscated my daughter’s alcohol. I’ve been enjoying Grace’s delicious Smirnoffs Peach Bellini coolers by the lake. I know I should be ashamed, and have a moment of two of remorse, but then the sun comes out, I have another refreshing sip, and dive in the lake.
Here’s the rub. Whatever I do, it doesn’t make a difference.
I remember when I was pregnant, I listened to one of those parenting tapes. The psychologist shared a story of how he spent years reminding his teenager to take out the garbage until one week, she finally did it on her own. He described it as a success, which I thought was funny given it took years for the kid to finally see it as their responsibility and actually remember to do it.
His message was they’ll eventually grow up, take responsibility and become adults. But in the meantime, my bathroom is a mess and I’m a glorified maid.
So dear readers, tell me and make me happy, how do you train a teenager? Leave a comment!