New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Teens

A new year presents a clean slate waiting to be filled with life’s little celebrations of family and friends, gatherings, birthdays, first days, last days and everything in between. It’s a chance to accept responsibility for our own failings, admit mistakes, apologize with sincerity, correct what can be corrected, learn from the past and move forward a little wiser than the year before.

As a parent to two teenagers, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I’ve also had a few successes. Reflecting upon these past blunders and listening to a few grievances, respectfully aired by my offspring, I’ve resolved this year to try to improve as a parent. No, that doesn’t mean later curfews; sorry kids. But here are five ways I hope to improve:

I resolve to listen intentionally when my children speak. I am easily distracted by the lengthy list of things to do in a day and not always focused. The result is they tell me less and we both feel distanced emotionally. As our children grow older, I know some emotional distance is necessary for their independence, but if I hope to be a trusted confidante someday when I’m not “just Mom” then I’ve got to show them that I can listen now.

I resolve to wait to be asked for my help. As a mother, I want to right every wrong for them. But, I’m not just raising children. I’m raising future independent adults who must become responsible contributing members of society that can think and act for themselves. Although they frequently display invincible exteriors; they still occasionally need my help. Unlike when they were younger, they need me to wait to be asked.

I resolve to teach them basic financial skills. Whether wealth is earned over a lifetime or a wonderful windfall occurs, it won’t be worth much for long if they can’t manage a few basic concepts such as: Pay yourself first. Build an emergency fund. Pay bills on time every time. Spend less than you earn. Balance bank accounts and review financial statements monthly. Save for retirement. Invest for the long term. Don’t invest in or sign anything you don’t understand. Practice delayed gratification. It’s a start and I hope to increase my own knowledge as we go but I’m laying the foundation now.

I resolve to show them the definition of success and how to enjoy it. Success requires acceptance. To be successful, accept who you are and be the best version of that as possible. Seek out people who bring out the best in you, do the same for them and accept them as they are. In doing so, you have achieved success and have good company in which to enjoy it.

I resolve to show affection every day. I am not by nature an overtly affectionate person. I don’t like to be fussed over and I don’t usually make a big fuss over others. My way of showing affection is in doing for others hence the resolution on waiting to be asked for help.

There is so much more I hope to teach them and learn from them before they take flight from the nest for good but with a few resolutions like these, maybe we can all chalk up more successes this year.

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