It’s a sobering fact of parenthood: One day you’ll wake up to find the cute little kid you gave birth to has mutated into something entirely less endearing – a teenager.
Communicating with teenagers is fraught with challenges, largely because everything you thought you knew about your child can change very suddenly. Don’t blame yourself. Blame hormones! And bear a few things in mind.
Just because your child has changed dramatically, don’t feel that you have to as well. Small adaptations to your parenting should suffice.
Put yourself in your teenage child’s shoes. You were that age once, but now you have the benefit of adult wisdom. Ask yourself: What did I want from my parents – and what was the right course of action with the benefit of hindsight?
Remember – your teenage child still needs you! Just because the two of you might be talking less frequently or your offspring seems embarrassed to be seen with you, he or she is still dependent on you. Be there, just as you have always been.
A Time of Change
You’ll see many differences in your child at the start of his or her teenage years. Your son or daughter may become more demanding, more distant or moodier; everybody’s different. And while you have to adapt mentally to these changes, don’t try to adapt your behavior to meet your offspring’s demands. The chances are that you’ll fail!
Be the parent that your child secretly expects you to be. Stay strict, stay in control and, most important of all, stay approachable. Don’t try to be cool. That will only make your son or daughter cringe. And don’t lose your cool – or you will most likely lose your child’s respect.
At this difficult stage in your kid’s upbringing, when everything is changing fast, the best thing that you can do is be a force of stability.
We Were All that Age Once
Just because you’re maintaining a calm and collected exterior, that doesn’t mean you have to switch off your emotions and natural instincts altogether.
The greatest gift we have as parents is the ability to avoid making the same mistakes that our own parents made. At the same time, think about the things that angered you as a teenager – things that you now accept were justified in the long run. There’s all likelihood that when your own dad or mom said “No” to that new gadget or girlfriend, he or she had your best interests at heart.
There are, however, little things you can do to retain your teenager’s respect. Don’t nag (too much!). Stay abreast of what your child is up to without being a constant presence by his or her side. And stay attuned to the trends of contemporary teenage life without subscribing to them. No 15-year-old wants a mother who lectures him in text speak!
Don’t try to be like your child. But remember that you were like your child once.
Don’t Give Up
Teenage years aren’t easy for children. And they’re certainly not easy for parents. But for all the battles you may find yourself having, there’s one matter that isn’t up for debate: your teenager needs you.
He or she may give every impression of self-sufficiency or downright coldness towards you on occasion. But you owe it to yourself and your child to stay in charge and never buckle. If you think your kid has little respect for you now, how do you think you’ll fare if you give in to his or her pleas or petulance? Be the dominant force, but also be ready to lend an ear in times of trouble. You can’t give your teenager everything he or she wants – but you can give your teenager a few things he or she really needs: advice, support and love.
Like it or not, your child’s teenage years are going to happen! Stay strong and ride the wave. And look on the bright side – five years later, you’re going to have a mature and manageable young adult in your life that you can be truly proud of.