Parenting teens is challenging

No matter who you are

It was a typical drive to school with my 15 year old today. We started off pleasantly. Then I started running through my checklist of things he needs to get done. Trust me, this is NOT his favorite mom-activity. He calls it “nagging.” He got irritated.

I got frustrated that he was pushing back about tracking down some clothes we had ordered for his tennis team. Now tennis is over, and he still hasn’t picked up his order.

He’s thinking, “I wish she would stop nagging me!” I’m thinking, “I wish he would just do what he is supposed to do!” And there we were, riding the carousel of frustration and irritation with each other.

Finally, it dawned on me that I needed to get off this nagging carousel. I needed to hand the problem back to him. Duh. I teach Love & Logic and still … when it comes to being a mom, I’m just an imperfect, human, (nagging) mom. Too bad teaching parenting classes doesn’t come with mothering superpowers.

But I digress. Back to handing the problem back to him: as long as I am more invested in the problem being solved than he is, we are likely to continue this unsatisfying pattern. 

After weeks of nagging, I finally backed myself out of nagging with one simple “Enforceable Statement” that sounded like this: “At the beginning of next month, I will deduct the cost of this order from your allowance if you haven’t picked it up yet.”

Did he thank me for my effective parenting? Hardly. Did he protest?  Yep. When he did, I responded calmly — and playfully — with, “I have now freed you from having to listen to any more of my nagging about this topic. This is your lucky day!”

The only reason I was able to have any sort of playfulness in my tone was because I was genuinely happy about figuring out how to hand the problem back to him.

Kerry's Weekly Parenting Newsletter

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