Every baby is destined to be an adult, and the environment those first 18 years heavily impacts his or her ability to become a thriving, responsible, honorable adult. Beginning with this end in mind is an excellent starting point for creating structure, boundaries, rules and expectations for your home.
The first step to transferring responsibility to your future adult is clarity of rules and expectations. Begin by asking yourself, where would I like my child to be in regards to finances, relationships, emotional intelligence, work ethic, etc. when they leave my home? Once you figure out the goals and rules, communicate them clearly and often to your child as they needing structure and to thrive. If your kids are aware and respectful of those rules, then give them the space to make mistakes.
Do not be surprised when your child inevitably tests your rules and limits to “see for themselves” how far they can go. This is normal and not a reflection of you. What is a reflection of you is how well you uphold your end of the deal when they do challenge you. Lovingly allowing them to fail, suffer natural consequences, learn from their mistakes and be held accountable are some of the best lessons you can give your child while they are in your home.
Parenting in the teen years is similar to having a safety net when learning to walk the tightrope. There is autonomy and support. If there is consistency and progress in your child making healthy decisions and learning from their mistakes, let them fly. They will thank you for it later, and you can sleep a little better at night when they are out of your house. However, If their decision making is revealing they cannot handle the responsibility that comes with more freedom, then tighten the reigns. This may require more concrete expectations, rules, consequences and rewards, so they can once again try taking flight again with more support. If ever there appears to be something bigger going on beyond the scope of your skills and understanding, schedule a family therapy appointment with a licensed professional for evaluation and regrouping.
If you are wanting additional support as you work to create structure or implement change in your home, click here to find Developing Rules and Consequences by Mark Gregston of Heartlight Ministries. It is an excellent resource full of examples, worksheets and guidelines to help you thrive in parenting.