Parenting a teenager can feel like a roller coaster! At times it’s because of the teen’s issues, but sometimes it’s parents that can damage the relationship.

In Scott Sell’s book, “Parenting Your Out Of Control Teenager”, he shares toxic behaviors that can poison your relationship with your teen. One that really struck me was about “Bringing” Up The Past”.

Do you forgive your child for bad choices? Do you forget them or remind your child of it every time there is conflict?

It is hard to forgive and forget, especially when there is a long history of pain. But reminding your child of their mistakes over and over will do nothing good in your relationship with them.

When you bring up the past, a child feels like they can’t win and might give up trying to change. If trust never gets regained and you always look at them as the mistakes they make, they might feel like love and acceptance will not happen and that you don’t believe they can change.

Of course you can’t forget the mistakes, just make sure you don’t talk about them as punishment and criticism. As your child makes positive changes, try to focus on how far they have come- not how bad they were before. Hearing only the negative can make them feel deflated.

If this is hard for you to change, ask for accountability from your child, a friend, or your spouse. Sells suggests having them make a cutting motion across their neck as a sign that you are starting down the “past path”. This can help you catch yourself and start to make change on talking about the issue going on right now.

I know I wouldn’t want someone to only judge me from my past behaviors, so why do that to our kids? Strive towards a closer relationship with your kids today by letting go of the past and focusing on the present and the future!

Regardless of what age your children are, I hope you will be able to use this information to better your parenting skills and keep a healthy connection with your kids!

*Resource: Parenting Your Out Of Control Teenager by Scott Sells

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC