Life with teenagers requires some flexibility. No, as the parent you really don’t have to bend, but if you’re wise, you’ll figure out which things are deal breakers and which are not. Fighting with your teen over minor issues will ruin both your lives. Is that really what you want them to remember about their last few years at home? Pick your battles. Here, in no particular order, are the issues I consider minor in the grand scheme of things.
- Weight Barring a serious health issue, never mention weight, especially to a teenage girl. If they have an extra pound or two, I promise you they are more than aware of it. To point it out to them is to add insult to injury. My girls have never struggled with weight, but I did and I remember once my mother mentioned it to me. Bad idea.
- Language I never tolerate the Lord’s name taken in vain, but words like crap, sucks, piss, the occasional damn or hell do not freak me out. Even on occasion, in a time of great stress, something stronger — as long as it’s around close friends and/or family and not in public. The teenage years are arguably the most difficult of life; the pressures are greater at younger ages than ever before. If they are otherwise walking the straight and narrow, sometimes it may be wise to allow them to let off a little steam in a safe environment.
- Hair Length, color, style. My youngest daughter has twice dyed her hair: the first time it was fuschia; the second time it was a purple streak down the back. She had fun, it’s gone now. No harm, no foul.
- Piercings We’ve done more ear piercings that I can count, including cartilage and one belly button. It’s not my taste, but both my girls are clean-cut lovely young ladies; my 16-year-old just likes to pierce her ears; my 19-year-old pierced her belly button as a reward for straight As her senior year. It’s not a moral issue.
Sorry if some of these offend, but I’ve got two bright, warm, loving and morally upright kids, so it’s working for us. And if you want to be offended again, come back for Part Two later this week.
Disclaimer: This post in no way constitutes professional advice and is not endorsed by the Surgeon General, American Psychological Association or Dr. Phil. I do, however have a sister and brother-in-law who are psychiatrists and they probably agree with me on most of these points, so it’s all good.