“Bad things are gonna happen in life, if you can’t handle this, what are you gonna do when something worse happens? Get over it! What do ya want a hug? That’s not gonna solve anything.”
This Dad is right. Bad things do happen. And yes, sometimes the world seems really hard, but the way to prepare your teen for these bad things is not by making them solve these problems or face the consequences of difficult choices alone. You prepare them by being there for them and gauging what they need then providing it in a reliable way.
Your teen needs you. This cannot be emphasized enough. It is what a colleague of mine, Dr. John Duffy calls Available Parenting. You have to be there when they need help without making them feel like that can only happen when they are in crisis. You see, if you are only able to really make time when your teen is in trouble (they know you HAVE to leave work to get them from the principal’s office or jail), well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, get into a lot of trouble and my parent will give me time.
Even if your teen must endure the lecture that invariably ensues about how their behavior is blah, blah, blah and they should know better, all your teen is thinking is it’s the early afternoon and I’m hanging out with my Mom.
Don’t make it that hard for your teen. Be there with them to navigate life when it can be challenging, and toughen them up by nurturing their self-esteem and confidence with support, presence and an open mind. Do this reliably so your teen knows they can depend on you. You want to rely on them to always do their homework or take out the garbage, and your teen wants to know whenever they need you, you will be there without judging or reminding them for years to come of their faults. Your teen will be tough enough for the world when they know their parent’s have their back.