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I'm always thrilled to get emails and messages from our members asking me to address certain topics. I like it even more when those emails address the same issues that I struggle with.
Recently one of our members asked me, "How do I handle my menopause and my kids' puberty at the same time?" I couldn't help but laugh, but I immediately sat down to write this article.
Lucky for me, my children all went through puberty before I turned 40. But that's not to say that our hormonal roller coaster didn't go off its tracks on more than several occasions. Plus, puberty is only the beginning; the teenage years are much more intense.
There are plenty of books written on the subject, and they are all full of "expert" advice on how to parent our children. However, before taking advice from anyone, I always ask if they have children of their own. Giving advice and living through the issues are two very different things.
I do not claim to be an expert in parenting, nor do I hold a degree in psychology. But I did raise four kids who turned out fairly normal and seem to be well-grounded. I believe that we as parents can do our very best but it also helps to be lucky.
So here are some pointers that worked for me during my kids' puberty and teenager years:
1.First and most important, your children need to be aware that while you both have issues with hormones, yours are older and stronger. Hence, you win. ☺
2.Be consistent. When you say "no," mean it! Don't change your mind two days later because you feel guilty or because it's more convenient to let your child off the hook.
3.Constantly reinforce right from wrong and explain your reasoning behind it.
4.Focus on what's important. Don't sweat the small stuff.
5.Allow for family time. If you can have dinners every night as a family, great. If not, do it as often as possible.
6.Demonstrate the importance of family by being there for your parents, grandparents and other family members. Have your teens spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If you don't teach them when they're young, they won't like doing it as adults.
7.Don't allow yourself to feel guilty.
8.Never try to make your children feel guilty.
9.Remind yourself and your children that you are a parent first and a friend second.
10.Demand respect and have consequences.
I freely admit that I come from "old school" parenting. My mom didn't hesitate to ground me, spank me, or even now in my 40's call me out if I get out of line. Emulating my parents, I've done the same with my kids.
When my son was 16, he came home from school one day with a rotten attitude. I was not having a great day either, and consequently had a short fuse. To be honest, my fuse was always shorter than my kids', but that kept them in line and on their toes.
My son said something to me that was rude and inappropriate (in my opinion). I turned around and slapped him. He looked at me with fire in his eyes but didn't say anything. Seeing his look, I asked, "What?"
With an angry voice he replied, "I wish I could talk back!"
"Why don't you," I inquired.
He responded with, "What, am I an idiot?"
That's when I knew my husband and I were doing something right.