Raising teenagers isn't easy. There's a four word sentence that HAS to be the winner for the understatement of the century. It never has been. Not for our parents, our Grand Parents, or their Grand Parents, and so on. But these days I think it's especially challenging thanks in large part to what we as today's parents, a generation, and society, have done to ourselves. We place our kid's level of happiness, their feelings, their safety (and by safety, I mean riding a bike with a helmet and knee pads type safety)--above everything else in our lives. And many times--that's also inclusive of our romantic relationships with our spouse or significant other.

We manage play time, set up play dates, micromanage their days, and are 'helicopter parents' to the point of ad nauseam. I've always believed that your marital and/or romantic relationship should come FIRST---and the kids--SECOND. I'll give you a moment to catch your breath after reading that. Yes--your partner should be the most important part of your life. If you have a happy, healthy relationship with your partner--the kids will be happy and healthy too. And they will see how a happy healthy relationship is supposed to be and what it's supposed to look like--ON ALL LEVELS.

I'm not saying don't love your kids. I'm not saying don't do special things for them and with them. I'm not saying don't spoil them now and then and let them know and feel how much they are loved and that they matter. Absolutely DO all of those things. Just don't go overboard. Don't be one of those helicopter parents. People wonder why the divorce rate is so high in this country--it's my opinion this is why. We are so wrapped up in our kids we forget we have a partner who also has needs. "My kids come first". Can't tell you how many times I've heard that one. I just shake my head and walk away and feel so blessed to be married to who I am married to--someone who understands that it's your spouse first, kids second.

Having said all of that--one great way to get your teenagers to spend time with you as parents is to get them involved in a project you're doing. For us this past weekend--it was putting together patio furniture and organizing our back yard as we get ready to be able to entertain guests in a nice space. It was a lot of fun doing this project with all of us involved and gave us a lot of time to laugh and joke as we worked together to accomplish a common goal.

I wish you all the luck in the world because I know as parents these days we have different challenges than our predecessors did. I think teaching kids that their happiness is no one's responsibility but themselves is a great tool to also teach independence. Thanks for reading and taking the time and I hope you get everyone involved in an outdoor project of your own this coming weekend!

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