By Dee Priddy

It was several years ago when my youngest daughter said to me, “My friends love you. They say you’re the cool mom.” My initial thought was….Oh crap…what am I doing wrong? I immediately pictured this mother trying to dress and act like a teenager. God, I hope that’s not me. She quickly confirmed that it wasn’t. So what did she mean?

Every family has to raise their children in the way that works best for them. For me, the way I have chosen to discipline and communicate with my kids has worked so far. I’ve always been more of a “laid back” parent, but always always demanded respect. This was a good thing….my teenage daughter likes me!!! Even better, she respects me. My girls are 16 & 21 and I thank God everyday for our friendship.

My youngest daughter at 16 still wants me to be the parent to take her and her friends to a concert. Why would I say no to that?? My kids aren’t afraid to talk to me about tough topics (although kinda scary sometimes). I wouldn’t change it for anything.

It’s funny how I see my mother in my parenting. She was crier, the guilt-tripper, the long-conversation-type-of-punisher. My Dad on the other hand, would start yelling and throw out my punishment before he even heard the whole story. It’s hard to let your teens make their own mistakes and figure out who they are. Especially when you’re a “control freak.” Yes I admit it, and I often want to say things like, “Get that ridiculous outfit off……You like who?……Why are you hanging out with them?……It’s kinda late to be eating that!…. You’re such a slob!” But I maintain self control and let them figure it out on their own.

I’m not a yeller. I don’t even like loud voices, so maybe that’s helped. I’ve been accused by a friend of being a push-over when punishing my son, now 17, who has been a little more “challenging” than my girls. I tend to look at the big picture and the end results.I can’t see how screaming and taking away what’s important to him for any long period of time could produce positive long-term results. His build up of anger towards me doesn’t help his attitude or strengthen our relationship. I believe open communication and continued reminders go a lot further.

For instance, after he’s been in trouble I may text him during the day and tell him I’m proud of him for something and glad to see you’re making positive changes. Just little reminders that I haven’t forgot the bad choices he’s made. It’s never resulted in a downward slope, sooooo whatever works. We have a good relationship and he’s as honest as I guess teens could be, but most of all I feel he respects me and what I have to say, and doesn’t want to disappoint me.

I’ve always believed in and practiced Positive Reinforcement since my children were babies. Being positive and pointing out the positive things someone is capable of can be powerful. Again, different strokes for different folks, but this has been what has worked for my family and I hope can help others of you who are entering into the teen years.

I hope that my children’s definition of “Cool Mom” is someone who has listened and tried to understand them. It brings tears to my eyes to think that in less than three years they’ll all be gone off to college. Then, I’ll look forward to the day when they become parents themselves and I can say, “See, it isn’t easy is it?”