When I was in elementary school, my best friend and I shut ourselves up in her basement to beat Super Mario Brothers. We spent hours listening to Beatles albums (yes, albums…there was a fantastic turntable in that room) while entering secret rooms for unlimited lives to rescue Princess Toadstool from King Koopa. Double whammy of disappointment for my poor mother: I was becoming a gamer and singing every Beatles song I learned. As my mother said, “I didn’t like them when I was a kid; I don’t want to listen to them, now!” Her punishment was my education in Motown. Well played (literally), Mom. Sorry, dear readers, Motown is way better than the Beatles.
As I grew into my sassy teens, my mom responded with sassy Motown. See also: Aretha Franklin. Interesting fact: legendary Motown artist Otis Redding wrote one of Aretha’s greatest hits, “Respect.” More interesting fact: Aretha vamped some additional lyrics to put her own stamp on the song, including the oft-misspoken “Take care, TCB”.
TCB, Taking Care of Business
Respect becomes one of the most important values in the life of tweens and teens. Respect, or lack thereof, is the reason venom seeps out of your sweet child’s mouth and anger drips out of their noncompliant bodies. Moms and dads, what are our responses? “Show some respect” or “Respect your elders.” My response? Take care, TCB:
- Two-way street: Like all parenting, you have to model appropriate behavior.
You have to show respect to your tweens and teens by starting to see them as their own, growing individual, separate from your husband’s sense of humor or your facial expressions. You have to shed all stories that start, “When I was your age,” and end, “I did the same thing when I was your age.” It is important to start talking and listening to your tween and teen to meet the new person they are becoming. This will deepen your relationship and earn respect, a necessary step when you have to play the “Mom card” or “Dad card” to prevent your growing child from making a life-changing mistake.
- Consistency: Respect is a feeling of admiration for someone based on general behaviors or achievements. Becoming a parent is achievement enough to elicit respect from your children, your family, strangers, animals, etc.
It is a hard job. Parenting tweens and teens means living your life under a microscope powered by your children. It becomes your job to say what you mean, mean what you say, and behave in a way that is consistent with those words.
- Boundaries: Don’t get mad, but somehow in showing your child you are a person and learning who they are as a person, you have to maintain clear boundaries. You are still the parent. You are still the top dog, head honcho, and benevolent dictator of their lives. While your tween and teen is behaviorally toddling around, they need your no-nonsense rules and expectations to stay the same as they were when he was a toddler. This is no time to be friends.
Spark Note Summary
As a mom, I give myself a daily medal for keeping my son alive and happy. I am stockpiling all unused treasures to create a monument worthy if I achieve the next level, helping nurture a young man who is kind, observant, empathetic, and respectful. Because these values are crucial to the goodness of our children, it is really hard work. Using these tips to take care of business will help the job.