When it comes to raising my teen- my motto is- there are no rules. See originally I had a rule book and I was convinced I could thumb through it on any occasion for moral support as to how I should approach any number of situations I might find myself in parenting a teenager daughter. Where- you ask- did I get this rule book from? A trained therapist perhaps? And the answer would be no. My parenting rule book has always followed that Seinfeld episode where George Costanza does the opposite of every impulse that he harbors in order to be successful at life. ( FYI following this practice he actually lands a job with the New York Yankees). And since all my experience being a teenager with my own mother is a jumbled mass of memories that I have carefully tucked away never to be unleashed- I don’t have a healthy model on which to base my current approach to parenting a teen. The truth is I try to reject any behavior that feels even slightly reminiscent of my own mother and do the exact opposite.
While I am only two years in- I have learned quite a few things from this experiment of raising a teenager with ZERO guidance ( and modeling my parenting tactics based on the way George Costanza made his decisions) and here are just a few random things I’ve learned so far- which I thought could be helpful to any of you in the trenches.
#1 When your teen comes home do not barrage her with twenty or for that matter more than ONE QUESTION. See, my impulse, after my teen has been at a sleepover is to see her and immediately ask her- ” how are you, what happened, who did you sleep next to, what did you eat, did you have a good time…” but taking my cues from George Costanza I do the exact opposite. I ask her NOTHING. I just smile at her and wait for her to tell me what’s up. And when she does start talking I RESTRAIN MYSELF and make sure to not get all questiony with her and be very chill about the whole thing.
#2 Remember to use George Costanza’s opposite approach when it comes to ANYTHING YOU WANT HER TO DO. Case in point I love when she wears her hair parted in the middle. When she was younger I could tell her this little factoid and she’d twirl around and smile at me. Now that she is a teenager I realize that my opinion registers as what NOT TO DO when it comes to her appearance. So if I want her to rock a certain hairstyle or article of clothing I will tell her said style is VERY VERY BAD for her. This of course will guarantee that she rocks a middle part and that cute dress I liked.
#3 Always have cookie mix ready to go. Apparently teenagers love to bake cookies– something I never even thought of as a teenager- which once again brings my George Costanza parenting rules into the forefront– doing the opposite of what I think my teen should do. Whereas I would have thought she’d want lots of makeup to play with- NO!! cookie mix is what she wants.
#4 NEVER speak above hushed tones when you are anywhere near the vicinity of another living, breathing teenager. See my impulse as a parent when I am dropping my daughter off at school in the morning is to say, ” Bye, I love you”. But if George Costanza style parenting has taught me anything it’s that my impulses are ALL WRONG. Saying such things in mixed company is simply unacceptable. So in true Costanza style I just drop her off , nod my head and keep on moving.