Do you find yourself micromanaging your teenager’s life? It goes something like this: “Did you take a shower?” “Did you study for your Spanish test?” “Have you figured out whether you’re going to the concert this weekend?” “Do I have to get the concert tickets for you?” “Shouldn’t you have left by now?”
When you have a deadline at work, who is responsible for meeting that deadline? When you have a meeting you need to attend, who is responsible for getting you to that meeting? How did you learn how to meet your deadlines and get to your meetings on time?
It is no different for our teenagers. If they don’t have a reminder to take a shower, they will get stinky and their friends will make fun of them. When that happens, chances are they won’t forget (or neglect out of spite) to take a shower again.
If your teenager doesn’t make the necessary phone calls she needs to make to see if everyone’s going to the concert over the weekend, she’ll probably end up sitting home bored to death while all of her friends are out having fun. Chances are, next time her friends start discussing an upcoming concert, she’ll be on top of the planning.
As Wendy Sheppard points out, a teenager’s job is to learn how to be independent – how to do things for himself. His job is to find the resources to figure things out if he can’t do it himself.
Our job is to support him through this process and help him with things he truly isn’t ready for.
Therefore, instead of hovering like a helicopter over your teen, try ‘submarine parenting’. As Todd Kestin explains, submarine parenting means staying out of sight under the surface letting the kids manage their lives as things come up. It’s keeping the proverbial periscope up, so parents are aware how things are going with their teens, how their decisions are turning out, and being available to step in as needed. By maintaining this stance in their teens’ lives, parents empower them to work their way out of problems, issues, decision-making, etc.
Submarine parents practice “parenting with intention.” Purposely backing off but keeping a hidden eye on their kids’ progress. Purposely giving them the room they need to succeed and to fail and bounce back again.
So what are some ways to use “submarine parenting” with your own kids? Here are five ways to take action with your teen by parenting with intention:
1. Back off on purpose.
2. Let your teen make his own decisions.
3. Talk to your teen with respect,
4. Model healthy behavior for your teen to follow.
5. Let go of the power struggle.
Lippincott and Deutsch, authors of 7 Things Your Teenager Won’t Tell You, urge parents to simplify their expectations into three “rules of play:”
1. Stay Safe
2. Show Respect
3. Keep in Touch
What happens in a teen’s life – from violating curfew to doing homework to confronting drugs and alcohol – can fall under the above-mentioned three “rules of play.
As Mike Duran points out, “Teenagers / Young Adults require CONSULTATION and ADVICE – This is the stage where our kids are (or should be) full-fledged managers of their own lives. By now, they should understand moral parameters and societal obligations. We respect their growing independence by posturing ourselves as consultants and advisers, not managers. As such, they are free to take or leave our advice. (Of course, this does not let them off the hook regarding behavior or responsibility, but it affirms their autonomy and our waning authority.)”
And if you still find yourself micromanaging your teen, lighten up and get your own life 😉
- Parenting vs. Micro-Managing
- Are You Micromanaging Your Teen?
- Teen Discipline: Don’t Micromanage Your Teen
- Quit micromanaging your teenager’s life or they’ll be dependent on your forever
- 5 Ways to Set Up Your Teen for Adult Success: With ‘Submarine Parenting’