You are awesome. You probably don’t hear it often, especially if you’re raising teenagers, but it’s true. And there’s no better time to celebrate you than National Parents’ Day.
On July 26, 2020, and every year on the fourth Sunday of July, the nation honors the vital role parents serve in their families and communities. National Parents’ Day was created in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to recognize, uplift and support parents. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, home is an extra special place and parents are being tested in unprecedented ways.
Why It’s So Hard Parenting Teens
Parenting is tough, and parenting teens is even tougher. You’re trying to strike the balance between holding on and letting go. Your child may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol or struggling in school. And you probably aren’t getting hugs or words of thanks on National Parents’ Day. Here are just a few challenges confronting parents of teens:
- Teens take risks and resist rules, but their judgment isn’t fully developed yet.
- Peer groups become more important as they push to differentiate themselves from their parents.
- Preparation for independence leads some teens to be highly critical of their parents, which can make parents feel rejected and unappreciated.
- Parents grieve the loss of their younger, more attentive and obedient child.
- Teens may turn out different than what their parents imagined. It’s a process laden with frustration before reaching a place of acceptance.
- Families have to negotiate new rules. Teens push for more freedom while parents struggle to maintain control to keep their kids safe.
The list of challenges goes on, but there are also positives. Teens are explorers, figuring out their passions, interests and ideals. Your influence is still incredibly important – research shows over three-quarters of teens value their parents’ opinions over friends’ when making major decisions. You’re watching your child grow into a young adult, a transition that means they’ll be a capable, independent adult someday.
14 Signs You’re Doing a Good Job
You won’t get it right all the time, but chances are you’re getting it right a lot of the time. According to the Pew Research Center, most parents feel they’re doing a good job raising their children. Here are a few signs you’re headed in the right direction with your parenting:
- Even though your kids spend a lot time in their rooms, they also interact with you and their siblings.
- You know and generally approve of their friends.
- Teachers comment on your child’s good character (traits like kindness and compassion), even if they don’t have a perfect report card.
- You make memories as a family.
- They do their chores, as least some of the time.
- You support their interests – even if they aren’t the ones you would choose – and enjoy watching them achieve goals and try new things.
- You generally respect their privacy.
- They know you’re there for them if they want to talk, share feelings or get advice, and they occasionally take you up on it.
- They show a variety of emotions in front of you, including sadness, disappointment and anger.
- You let them make decisions and learn from their mistakes, but get involved when it comes to important topics.
- You say yes and give them space when you can, but say no when needed and follow through with appropriate consequences.
- You say sorry when you make mistakes and talk about how you wish you had handled the situation.
- You disagree sometimes, but you don’t hold grudges and talk through issues when needed.
- When your child is struggling, you know it’s usually not about you.
Ways to Celebrate National Parents’ Day
National Parents’ Day is a time to feel appreciated for your years of dedication. For some, this means spending time with the kids. For others, this means taking a break from family and doing something special just for you. Here are a few ideas for ways to celebrate this day:
- Do a favorite activity with your kids, such as hiking, going on a picnic or watching a movie
- Call or spend time with your parents or someone who was like a parent to you, or take a moment to honor a caregiver who has passed away
- Tell your kids how glad you are to be their parent
- Meet with your family to set goals for the week, month or year ahead, talking through bucket list items and dreams in addition to responsibilities and commitments
- Celebrate friends, neighbors or others who are parents
- Take time to recharge by doing something you enjoy
- Ask your spouse/partner and kids to make dinner
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You’ve nurtured, sacrificed, taught and guided your kids even as the world keeps shifting. You’ve endured sleepless nights and nonstop worries. In addition to questioning your kids, your partner and all the well-meaning advice you receive, you’ve questioned yourself. This month, give yourself some recognition. Parenting is a marathon, made up of sprints and hurdles, and you’re making it – one day at a time.