It is not your teenager’s job to learn how to be a better teenager. It is your job to learn how to be a better parent to your teenager. If you can do that, your teenager’s behavior will improve. Your relationship will improve. You’ll start to see truly amazing and jaw-dropping things happen.  But it has to start with you. It’s the ultimate and indisputable rule of parenting.

Stop and think for a damned second. 

Do you not realize who your teenager is? 

Your daughter is smart. Your daughter is beautiful. Your daughter is incredible. Your daughter is bound for great things!

Your son is gifted. Your son is intelligent. Your son is capable of anything. Your son will accomplish the impossible!

Why can’t parents see that they must begin labeling their teenagers with the empowering and beautiful words that will push these kids toward greater things? Why can’t they see that they must declare their confidence and faith in their nearly grown children? Why can’t they see that they must trust those children, even when that trust seems impossible or ill-founded? Why can’t they see that they must stop believing society’s many horrid and false stereotypes of teenagers? Why can’t they see that they must turn the tables on everything so many of us joke and believe teenagers to be?

Why can’t parents see that they must start expecting everything from their teenagers, but demanding nothing?

Maybe they don’t realize who their teenagers are. Maybe they don’t see just how fragile and human their children still are. Maybe they don’t get that  there is far more to them than what meets the eye.

I was different than what anybody thought I was. I was more than what anybody believed me to be. I was destined for greater things than anybody ever gave me credit for.

For example, I had a heart that nobody seemed to know about. Somehow, in the midst of the constant hate I was feeling, and in the midst of the deep depression that often overtook me, I was desperate to love. Oh, I was desperate to be loved too, but I was far more desperate to love others. I was far more desperate to move past the consuming anger and hatred that I seemed to permanently feel, and actually love another person the way nobody, I felt at the time, had really loved me.

I was also ambitious. I was also smart. I was also gifted.

I was artistic. I was strong. I was capable. I was faithful. I was beautiful.

I just wanted some power. I needed some power. I needed to control parts of my own life, and nobody would let me. The world worked to make it as impossible as they could for me. And so, feeling completely powerless, I shut myself off, I pushed others away, and I secretly shifted between thoughts of my own extinction and thoughts of the freedom I would one day have if I could just make it to 18. You see, those were the only two ways that I felt I would ever have any power at all. Grow up or give up.

And the truth is, your daughter wants and needs some power, too. Your son wants and needs some power, too. You also want power. But, I ask, what’s the cold and very real difference between your wants and your teenager’s wants? Your teenager wants power over his or her own life. You want power over the life of your teenager. You want power over the life of somebody who is only years or months from jumping into their adult life without you as their controller and superior.  Doesn’t that scare you a little bit? Doesn’t it scare you to know that you’re trying to control everything until your child leaves home? Doesn’t it scare you to think about what will happen when that control disappears, basically overnight? Don’t you see the value in controlling your teenager less while you still have a chance and you still have an ultimate say in how things go down?

If you take anything from this post today, I want you to take this. It is okay that your teenager wins sometimes. It is okay that your teenager is right sometimes. It is okay that your teenager thinks for herself. It is okay that they your teenager makes mistakes. It is okay that your teenager botches it up once in awhile. It is okay that your teenager is human.

Everybody needs to win once in a while. Everybody. If you never let your teenagers win, beating you will become the most important thing to them. And they will win; if not now, they’ll win eventually. It’s their life, and one day you’re not going to have a say. It’s time you see that. It’s time you believe that.

And it’s time you start letting them go. 

It’s time you stop fearing what bad effects losing control and power of your teenager will have. It’s time you stop believing that giving them any power and control is the guaranteed beginning of their failure as adults. It’s time you stop insisting that their lives need to swing the way you want them to. More than anything, it’s time you stop making your teenagers feel worthless in your attempts to do everything else.

If you can’t, and if they do enter the grown-up world feeling worthless, every decision they ever make will revolve around that worthlessness. What they do in school, their careers, in relationships, and with you. It will all be affected. It will all hinge on unhealthy perspective. Everything. Every decision. Every minute of every freaking day. 

Last I checked, people who feel worthless don’t make a lot of great choices.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a second and share today’s post. You never know who will benefit or what kind of discussion and debate you will stir up. You just never know.

I’d also love to hear your thoughts, no matter what those thoughts might be.

NOTE: This post is the fourth and final in a series of posts that I have shared over the last seven months. If you haven’t yet, please read the other three.
1. You just broke your child. Congratulations.
2. Worthless Women and the Men who Make Them
3. Worthless Men and the Women who Make Them

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!