Independence

How to teach your teen some independence and responsibility

We are working on teaching T some independence and responsibility. He’s almost 14 and it seems maybe we have done too much for him over the years. Helped him too many times. Rescued him too often.

Consequences and structure are so important to all children but I tend to think even more so with children who split their time between homes. M and I try. There are so many extra dynamics when you co-parent with an ex. It’s easy to blame the other parent for everything! I try to remember that we can’t do that and we can’t control what she does, only what we do and how we parent.

One piece of the independence puzzle is to teach time management. Teens like T need to learn to get to school or appointments on time, to allow for time to study for exams, and to balance multiple commitments. We found too often we have been the back-up alarm in the morning and that always ends in everyone rushing around to get out the door and a grumpy kid.

So recently, we had plans and needed to get up and leave the house around 8:00 am (summer break! yay!). I had to ask three times for T to get up and ready.  T said he set his alarm but that he fell asleep standing up when he was trying to get ready. So, I calmly told him that he would have no screens for today because that is the consequence for not getting up and ready on time.

He was really upset and saying it’s not fair. I explained this was the consequence and asked him what he thought he could do to prevent it in the future. He was pretty surly at this point. I suggested maybe he would like to go to bed earlier so he doesn’t fall asleep standing. He said “fine” in that way only a teen can.

I understand the need for consequences and I know he needs to be held accountable for his actions. This is preparing him for real life! And I told him as much. But I still feel like the bad guy. (And can’t help but think he is comparing me to his mom thinking she would never take away his screen time!)

He remained agitated through the morning but ended the day being able to laugh about it. I hope he truly learned something from this but honestly feel doubtful. I find peace in knowing that God has a plan for T and that as long as we keep trying we can rest in that as well. 

Do you have any tips for teaching your child about time management? 

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