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Parenting Your Teenager: 3 Ways to Make the Time

Every now and then I'll get a story sent to me by e-mail that is a no-brainer idea for an article. One of those came across my desk just the other day. It's called "I Wish I Had a Second Chance."

Like many of these things, the author's name was not included. If anyone knows who the author is, I'd love to know so I can give him or her credit and thanks.

Give it a read, and then let's put some 'hands and feet' on how to use it in your own life.

My hands were busy through the day, I didn't have much time to play the little games you asked me to. I didn't have much time for you. I'd wash your clothes, I'd sew and cook. But when you brought your picture book and asked me to share your fun, I'd say A little later, son.

I'd tuck you in all safe at night and hear your prayers, turn out the light. Then tiptoe softly to the door. I wish I'd stayed a minute more. For life is short, the years rush past ... a little boy grows up so fast. No longer is he at your side, his precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away, there are no longer games to play, no good night kiss, no prayers to hear ... that all belongs to yesteryear. My hands once busy now are still. The days are long and hard to fill. I wish I could go back and do all the little things you asked me to.

If you're like me, you are feeling a little misty. But instead of just getting misty, let's use this to make things a little better.

Let's take a little trip into the future. Let's fast forward five, 10, 20 years from now, when your kids are no longer interested in asking you to do anything with them, much less play.

What does that regret feel like as you look back?

I never want to feel that way. So come back from the future with me, and let's do something about it right now.

How to make the time

Every single one of us is the same in that we each get 24 hours and no more each day. My belief is that we can make the time for the important things if we know how. Here are three strategies to make the time:

1. What keeps you from spending time with your kids?

Whatever it is, I'd suggest evaluating it very carefully and severely. How can you change it? Can you move it around, reschedule it, do it less, give it to someone else to do, or just stop doing it altogether?

2. Date your kids

Set dates-with-Mommy or dates-with-Daddy times. These are one-on-one times to spend with each other. Protect these dates as you would an important business appointment. At least two good things can result:

=>The time is set and protected

=> your kid will feel very special.

Follow them when you play with them

Let them lead and set the agenda. This is going to feel awkward at first, because we are so used to pushing hard, setting agendas and getting things done. Just follow them. One of the many really cool side effects of this is that after you practice this for a while, it can be very relaxing.

One of the many things we can take with us from this story is best said by Patrick Boyle, editor of Youth Today:

The reality is that our to-do lists never end, while our kids' childhoods do.

Visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager, from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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