5 Things to Stop Doing For Your Teens: Step Back So They Step Forward

Jan 18, 2023
5 Things to Stop Doing For Your Teens: Step Back So They Step Forward

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. This quote works for so many things in life, but not in parenting. The main reason is even though we think we aren’t aging, our children are. And as they age, they change and grow and even grow out of our best parenting strategies. Most parents have dreams for their children starting in the womb. Usually those dreams do not involve 29 year olds living in the basement of your house eating your food and playing Fortnight all day. Of course we want our offspring to grow up and leave the nest. However, most of us don’t really have a specific plan for transitioning from doing everything for our toddlers to having teenagers doing most things for themselves. In fact, many of the things we do as well-meaning, loving parents actually discourage the achievement of this milestone.

Do you know anyone who would rather pay for everything and do all the chores themselves if they had an option to have free rent, a full-time cook and maid, and a chauffeur? If we want our teens to be motivated to achieve their own success, we have to transfer responsibility to them for “adulting.” We have to take a step back to allow them to move forward. This seems easy enough, but if we check our own homes, we might find that we are unintentionally holding our students back by doing too many things for them. Now is the time to lovingly get out of their way and allow our teens to assume responsibility for things they could be doing for themselves.

Ironically, what we do out of necessity when our children are little, becomes habit as they grow older. How do we decide when it is time for them to take on more responsibility, for us to step back? Just as we are amazed when our toddler can drink out of a regular cup at a restaurant when we have forgotten her sippy-cup, we are also amazed when our sloppily dressed son acquires a girlfriend and emerges from the laundry room with his shirt and khakis miraculously ironed. YouTube plus a little motivation is an amazing thing. If he was able to iron today, could he have ironed yesterday, or perhaps a year ago? Probably. So the way to tell if your teen is ready for a task is not to wait until they are magically able to assume it on their own, but to start handing off responsibilities and let them learn under your supervision. Step back to allow them to move forward. With this method, they will have the chance to make a few mistakes along the way and recover in a nurturing environment..

Here are five things you might be doing for your son or daughter that they can probably do for themselves.
Saving them from their “I forgot’s”
Making sure they are on time
Doing their laundry
Working out their transportation
Making their lunch

If you decide to transition any of these tasks to your teen, there are three simple steps. One is to have a conversation about why you feel this is a job they can handle and you are no longer going to do for them. Two is to role play or teach them the skill and make sure they understand. They should also know that they can come ask you questions if they need help. Three is to just let it go and not take over when they don’t do it perfectly. Here’s to growing those teenagers into successful adults. When you take a step back, they naturally have to take a step forward to fill in the gap.