It’s hard to ignore teenagers. Without sticking labels on them, let me just say: they eat a lot, they are noisy, they create and live through drama, sometimes, their hair is crazy, and their music is loud. And a lot of them are messy.
However, those by-products of adolescence are actually the least of your worries. And quite honestly, they are things that can be ignored and tolerated.
What should you ignore when your child is a teen?
Almost everything that grates on your nerves. Because there are usually more important battles to fight.
What should you not ignore?
There is one thing you should not ignore when your kids are teens. And that one thing is this: habits, actions, and decisions that violate the values you are trying to teach them.
For instance: your teen decides to take up drinking or drugs. Those are choices you cannot ignore. Time for exercising some tough love, for the sake of your family’s sanity and for your teen’s safety.
For instance: your daughter dresses like a hooker. If this bothers you–and I hope it does!–it’s time for a conversation about it.
The for-instances go on and on, depending on what values you uphold in your house. And if you can’t identify your values, this is a good time to define them. Values gives you a compass for being a parent, and for being a person. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually write them down and refer to them every now and then when you are faced with deciding which behaviors to ignore.
Ignorance is Bliss…or is it?
Ignoring the stuff that is just annoying and not value-opposing actually freed me from getting uptight about things that weren’t worth it. I chose to ignore my teens’ messy bedrooms by not going in them, and often just closing the door so I didn’t have to look at them. For me, in that situation, ignorance was bliss.
But my husband and I could not ignore the stuff that was really important, the battles we fought for the souls and safety of our children. Ignoring those battles would not have been bliss; it would have been irresponsible.
So, with your teens, stake out your battles and choose your ignorances. It will help keep you sane during those rocky years while keeping you on target for raising positive, productive human beings.