Written by : Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. 

4 Ways to Keep Your Self-Esteem While Raising Teenagers

Teenagers can be rough on your self-esteem. While a younger child looks up to you, desires your company, is eager to please and aspires to be like you, an adolescent becomes more critical, more focused on friends, more argumentative, more passively resistant and strives to be distinct from you.

Because of this, you might feel like you invest most of your time worrying about, arguing with, negotiating with and nagging your teen. And, you feel like your worthy efforts at parenting either go unnoticed or are not appreciated.

So, how can you cope with this blow to your self-esteem? You must first take responsibility for managing it yourself. To do that, try these four suggestions to make it easier for you.

Adjusting Expectations

You shouldn’t take these changes personally; they are not about you. Instead, you might tell yourself, “I understand that as my teenager is changing, our relationship is changing. This means that close together times might seem harder to come by.”

Asking for What You Need

When you feel unacknowledged for your efforts, it’s important that you ask for what you need. For example, you might declare your expectation for common courtesy by saying, “When I do something for you, I would like a ‘thank-you’ just as I give when you do for me.” And when the relationship starts to feel distant or disaffected, you can express your feelings and suggest ways to reconnect by saying something like, “How about we go out to get something to eat or go to a movie or do something else together? I’ve been missing fun company with you.”   

Insisting on a Give-and-Take

You should refuse to adopt a role where you do all the giving and the teenager does all the receiving, because this will naturally lead to resentment. Instead, you can simply say, “I expect to live in a two-way relationship with you. This means just as I do for you, I expect you also do for me. And sometimes you will need to do for me before I do for you.”

Defining Yourself Broadly

You should not allow your self-esteem to depend entirely on the opinion of your teenager and what she or he does or doesn’t do. Instead, you must define yourself broadly beyond only being a parent to an adolescent. You might remind yourself of other aspects of your life, such as your active social circles, hobbies that you enjoy or charities that you are involved with. And you should absolutely not judge yourself through your adolescent’s unappreciative or critical eyes. To keep up your self-esteem, you must evaluate yourself kindly by focusing on your various parenting “wins,” even if they seem small.

To keep up your self-esteem while raising teenagers, it helps if you ask yourself, “What do I wish my adolescent would say in recognition for all I do for her?” Then, you should commit to being your own best supporter and affirmatively answer that question for yourself.

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