I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but I thought I would embrace change this year. As I reflect back on last year my first thought is, “I survived being the mom of twin teens!” Their fourteenth birthday is in February, so this time of year also marks my accomplishment, and yes, I view that as an accomplishment.
If I’m honest with myself, I can also admit there is still room for improvement. Since I know that I can only control my behavior, I plan to focus on what I can do differently as a parent. So here’s my list, in no particular order (even though I numbered it…I just like numbered lists).
1) I will encourage my twin teens to be more independent.
During their morning routine, I will remain silent without saying, “Hurry up or you will miss the bus!” I will also give them a list of things they are responsible for, such as putting away their laundry, cleaning the dishes and packing their lunches.
2) I will allow them to fail.
This is a tough one for me, as I often feel this may somehow be a reflection on me as a parent. I also struggle with being a perfectionist, but I realize sometimes “failing” is the only way you learn and grow as a person. So when they ask me to bring to school their forgotten homework or other items my answer will be a hard “no.”
3) I will continue to attempt to communicate with them.
This year, whenever I tried to ask my teens questions, I heard a lot of one-word, generic responses. When I ask, “How was school today?” often their response is a one word “good” without any other details. After hearing “good” or “nothing” a hundred times, I was tempted to give up trying. But I have been told by more than one person that I’m tenacious, so I tried other methods. I found by asking unusual questions or offering up information about myself, I was often able to engage in what some might consider a conversation. So I’m going to keep trying because when it works, it’s worth the effort.
4) I’m going to nag less and observe more.
I never enjoy nagging, and it rarely yields the results I want. After reading articles and interviewing experts, I learned that making observational comments or questions is much more effective. My favorite one— which even elicits the occasional chuckle— is, “Are you working hard or hardly working?”
5) I’m going to let them know when they are doing a good job.
It’s easy to notice all the things a teen is doing wrong, such as leaving their towel on the floor, staying up too late at night or eating junk food. It’s much harder to point out what they are doing right, such as how they did their homework, helped their sibling, or cleaned their room. I plan to notice at least once a day what they are doing right and let them know how proud I am of them. Because they are doing a lot of things right that make me so proud.
One of the reasons I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions is because— often by March— people are back to their old ways and their New Year’s Resolutions are quickly forgotten. That’s why I’m writing it down, so I can reflect on this list and remind myself that me pursuing these goals will help us have a better relationship, hopefully helping my teens grow up to be successful adults. It’s certainly worth trying something new to achieve that.
Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter.