A Positive Perspective on Nagging Your Teen

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If you still have a teen in the nest like I do, you will agree that life after fifty still entails nagging your teen.

You are not alone. There is comfort in company and there are ways for you to look at these last few years of nagging your teen with a positive perspective.

At the tail end of the blurry years of parenting, we’re in the home stretch! With a few tweaks to our perspective, we can survive it without giving up or jumping off the roof.

My fifteen year old thinks every word out of my mouth is nagging. Third child – if he only knew how derelict I’ve become after the older two wore me down, he’d be thankful.

Twenty years of parenting my three sons is a long time to be nagging.

Actually, I don’t like the word nag – it has such a negative vibe to it. I prefer to call it nudge.

From the time they could crawl, I’ve been nudging my kids to do the things that I think keep them safe and healthy and will increase their chances of being relatively decent human beings.

From the no-no-no, not nice to bite your brother nudges of their toddler years to the don’t forget to use deodorant, you don’t want to be the kid that stinks nudges of their early teenager years, it’s like a never-ending guidance counseling session.

What I would like my teen to understand is that I’m not playing this broken record for my own good. For example, I’m not nudging him about his grades and homework and about putting down that bag of chips because it’s how I get my kicks. I’m actually tired of the endless nudging that parenting seems to require (at least in my house). I’d prefer to stop playing the recording of my endless nudging comments, but as I explain to my son, IT IS MY JOB.

He rolls his eyes when I explain that I’m not nagging, I’m nudging, and it is because I love him and all the hot air and repeated messages are for HIS well-being, not my own. I’m waiting for it to “click” for him. I am eagerly anticipating when that magically moment comes to him and he finally understands the root of the nudging truly is rooted in how much I care for him.

Would he be living in the woods behind our house with rotted teeth and a club dragging in his fist if I hadn’t nudged him so endlessly?

I have to believe that the one-million times I’ve nudged –  brush your teeth, wash your hands, do your homework, clean your room, say please, did you say thank you, and on and on and on – have helped guide him to become the respectful, functioning young man that he is.

Sometimes I want to throw up the white flag and give up when he seems not to be listening to my well-meaning nudges.

We nudge, nag, prod, threaten, and even bribe – to try to continue to motivate them.

Luckily, right around the time when we’re reaching for the white flag, it usually starts to “click” for them.  They see the light at the end of the Nudge Tunnel where their independence is waiting for them. Where mom won’t be playing the endless nudge-loop in their ear and they’ll finally have the chance to decide how to conduct themselves completely on their own.

With that independence I think they begin to understand that without all of the years of nudging, they might not have been as ready as they are for the next step. My older two realized around age 18 that being safe, healthy and respectful human beings has advantages as they stepped out of our home and into the world on their own.

Keeping our perspective can help keep our sanity.

Consider the famous saying, “The nights are long but the years are short.” There are moments when we are so exhausted and we think the parenting is endless, but it isn’t. You will look back and realize how quickly these teenage years passed. (Maybe you’ll even wish you were back to nagging your teen again!).

And let’s remember that our teens are under the crushing pressure of needing to measure up. It seems to come at them from every angle!

When you think they’re not hearing you. They actually are. Nagging your teen was not lost on them. It made a difference and however it came across; we did the best we could at the time.

Keep going, keep nudging, stay positive – we’re just a slide away from home plate!

Don’t be too quick to wish away these last chances at nagging your teen. Appreciate the time together, even if it feels like it is mostly spent in Nagville.

I’m going to hang in there and continue the loving nudge-festival for another three years or until it “clicks” for my teen.  I can already see the capable young man he is becoming (and there’s no club in his hand!).

Even so, you can bet that tonight I’m still going to lovingly nudge him to shower and to do a good job on his homework.

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