My husband and I have always tried to ensure that our daughter has had everything she’s ever wanted. But now that she is 16, I’m starting to doubt if she knows what hard work, compromise and patience really mean. Is it too late to teach her these values, and how should I go about it?
Your question is one that could resonate with a lot of parents. You are right to point out that if you start off giving your children everything they want, then it’s very easy to quell their motivation to take personal responsibility in that all-important transition into adulthood. I understand your concerns, but it’s also vital to remember that she is a teenager and she could be behaving in a way that is fairly common at her age.
That doesn’t mean to say there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, this is a great time to teach her values that she can take into adulthood. So how do you set about doing that, without things descending into a confrontation every time you try?
First, it’s important that you as a parent do some introspection. Think about what she is doing that is causing you concern. Also ask yourself if there is anything you are doing that is a catalyst for this. You mention that you give her everything she desires, so maybe you need to set yourself some boundaries in that area.
Rather than capitulating to her every demand, come up with a set of clear guidelines that she can follow. This might mean giving her a monthly monetary budget and when that runs out, which inevitably it will, not caving in and handing over more money. This way you will begin to teach her the value of things. Also, you could strengthen this further by expecting her to do certain things in order to receive that money each month. These could be things around the house or things related to achievements at school. You must be prepared to stand firm on this as the moment you give in when things get tough, is the moment she’ll know that you don’t mean what you say. Words are good, but actions speak volumes.
Once you’ve come up with a plan, find a relaxed time to talk to her. You and your husband should do this together to show a united front. It’s important to talk to her not at her. You have to give respect to gain it, so talking to her in a mature way and most importantly showing her that you are willing to listen will be far more effective than laying down the law.
Finally, don’t expect this to be plain sailing. Stand firm, don’t lose your cool and be consistent, it will pay off.