A Teenager’s Guide to Sleep-Training Their Parents

Raising parents can be hard. There’s so much to teach, and a child’s time with mom and dad is so short. That’s why it’s important to look to the experts.

When it comes to sleep training, although children of all ages are adept at forming their parents’ sleep habits, the foremost authorities on parental sleep training are undoubtedly teens and young adults. Through their years of exhaustive research and experience, adolescents and twenty-somethings have developed a solid program to help moms and dads miss the rest they need.

woman with dog in bed
Parents of teens never get enough sleep.

How to Sleep Train the Parent of a Teen

Step 1: Establish a missed bedtime routine. In early adolescence, join an activity that involves some sort of late night practice, game or rehearsal.  Dance, band, baseball, the theater–it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to keep your parents out well past their preferred bedtime several nights a week. It is also a good idea to ask for a meal or snack after your late-night practice, game, or rehearsal, and if possible, ask your parents to give two or three of your friends a ride home. All of this will ensure you get your mom and dad off to a good, sleep-deprived start heading into the next several years.

Step 2: Discover your passion for music, online gaming, or late-night cooking. Again, the specific activity isn’t important. The important thing is that you stay up as late as possible and enjoy your newfound hobby as loudly as possible. Many parents will try to resist Step 2 by imposing limitations on how loudly you can play your music or how late you can play your video games. In that case, simply stay up late “cleaning your room” or “studying.” You will find, in these seemingly quiet activities, many opportunities for dropping heavy items, clomping up and down stairs or hallways, or even moving furniture.

Step 3: Get your driver’s license. You might worry that by driving yourself to all your practices, games, and rehearsals, your parents will fall into the habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour. Not to worry. Some parents might attempt this, but their sleep will be fitful at best until you are home. Most will actually stay awake until you are safely in for the night. An added bonus of having your driver’s license is that you don’t always have to go out to reap sleep deprivation benefits. Once their child starts to drive, some moms and dads will actually lose sleep over a whole host of other teen-related issues.

Step 4: Go to college. Admittedly, this is the trickiest stage of sleep training. Some parents think that having you out of the house means that they can return to their pre-child sleep schedule. Unfortunately, this is often the case. That is why it is imperative to have a minor crisis at least once a semester. Have a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Lose your credit card. Have a meltdown about an upcoming final. Just be sure that whatever turmoil you experience happens late at night and requires the calming assurance of at least one parent.

Step 5: Study abroad. The time difference between your campus in Europe and your parents’ home in the U.S. will give your mom and dad the opportunity for hours and hours of lost sleep. If possible, have the most amazing time EVER and see and do things so incredible you just have to tell your parents about it right now! This will ensure numerous late night phone calls and texts.

Step 6: Come home from college. This is when all your hard work finally pays off! Whether you have been studying overseas or just across town, your parents will be thrilled when you come home for winter break, summer vacation, or even just a weekend. This is an excellent time for you to suggest a family movie night–starting at 11:00 p.m.. It’s also a great time for late-night talks and midnight baking sessions. No matter what you have in mind, your parents will not only be eager to spend time with you, they will also be more than able to stay up half the night to do so.

Sleep training parents is the work of a life-time–well, at least the work of a couple of decades. And while there are no actual benefits that parents will gain from the years of sleep deprivation, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have done your duty as a teenager. And your parents will have the satisfaction of knowing you will have teenagers of your own someday.

You Might Also Want to Read: 

Parents, Don’t Freak Out When You Get One of These Calls From Your College Freshman

About Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Parent.co and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.

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