Especially once the kids get into high school, there will be tons of things you will see them doing wrong. From not waking up to their alarm to the way they handle social relationships, you will find yourself wanting to just tell them exactly what to do. But often this will just cause them to reject your directions. And it’s generally agreed that one of the best ways to learn is by making your own mistakes. During high school I told my daughters that I didn’t care when they woke up on school days so long as putting on makeup was the last thing they did. If they ran out of time and had to leave for school it meant without makeup.
My wife and I found the most effective approach during teen years is to give “advice”. And you really have to be careful to make sure your words come across as advice and not direction. The kids can choose to take the advice or not. If they don’t, but later realize the advice was good, then they might start taking the advice more and more. Just don’t expect them to let you know this or to thank you for the advice. And also never go for the “I told you so” approach.
I will also say that many times the best approach is to just bite your lip and either ignore or let things play out. I mean, compared to worries about drug use or criminal acts, complaining about a cluttered bedroom or playing the music too loud don’t seem worth it during the teen years. In other words, pick your battles and adjust your litmus test as your teenager gets older. There will be a day when they drive off to college and have to make every tactical decision on their own.
See my other blog posts on parenting here.