Teenage, the golden age! The period where a child is transitioning into an adult. The generation where the most nostalgic feelings come from. Sweet naive teenage!
It is unarguably the best and worst period of a person’s life. A period where children discover themselves, make mistakes, learn from them, harden their personality, etc. All of which are shaping their identity into a fixed model.
As tumultuous as this period is for the teenager, it is also hard for the parents who find the whole process just as hectic. The confusion and frustration lead parents to ask what they can do better. You may have also asked yourself this question. The thought of being a failed parent scares you, so how can you be a better parent to your teenager?
During these teenage, your teenager feels and acts more independently of you. This reduces the communication between both of you. This gap strains the parent-child relationship. You are now kept in the dark on most things that occur in the life of your teenager and you seem to lose more control over your teenager.
Sometimes, you get frustrated with trying to navigate your way through this entire phase. You think back at your teenage days and wonder if you were this difficult with your own parents. You definitely were not this inconsiderate and arrogant? Or could you be the problem, you might ask yourself?
Relax, hun; you are not the problem. It is what it is. This generation of teenagers is far different from the ones from yours, which is why parenthood is even more confusing for parents of teenagers of this generation.
Nowadays, teenagers are not as easily managed as those in the previous generations. They feel more entitled, more defiant, and express themselves more and better than other generations’ teenagers. This is due to the effect of the environment they find themselves in. These teenagers live in an age of awareness, vast information, global connectivity, and rights.
As a parent of such a versatile teenager, you might find yourself in constant friction with your child. The struggle to relate and find a compromise with them is tiring and frustrating.
Before now, teenagers had little to no input over the decisions their parents made for them. They acted no more than how children are expected to behave today. They rarely challenged the will of their parents and they were more obedient, less defiant, hardly asked questions, and even then, the job of raising a teenager was thought to be a handful. If only they could see what parents of this generation have to go through.
Sure it could seem like a herculean task to raise a child who would possess all the qualities of an ideal person in society; it is not impossible. Yes, my dear. You can train up a considerate, caring, wise, and disciplined teenager without severing the bond you share. In fact, the stronger the bond you share with your teen, the more influence you would have over them.
Having a good relationship with your child often relates to the success of your teen. Although, how you both rate the success of the child is relative. What may seem insignificant to one might mean so much to the other. What you need to do is make sure you are both on the same page on what you define as a successful relationship and what is not.
Usually, things like good grades, good social and emotional behavior make up a good relationship. While things like early sexual exploits, poor school results, drug abuse, and so on constitute a bad relationship between you and your child.
So, to build or keep a good relationship while communicating the dangers of what could lead to a bad relationship with your teen, you need to be able to form that bond.
The first thing you need to understand about parenting teenagers is that you do not want to control them. Your job is to guide and equip them with life tools. Teenagers will rebel if they do not have enough freedom to explore the world. If they think their parents want to control them, they may withdraw into themselves.
Here are some strategies for positive parenting your teenager.
1. Be a friend to your teenager
What most teenagers need is a friend. I mean, can you even begin to imagine all the things they have to go through in this global age? The pressure to succeed is even fueled by the fact that the internet has gathered so much for comparison.
They can not help comparing their physical or intellectual abilities with their peers, who may seem to be more successful than they are. Society has, with the help of the internet, influenced the standard at which certain things are measured.
Your teenager can feel like they ought to be that perfect model society wants for them. If they find themselves lacking in these qualities, they might feel more withdrawn, depressed, and in extreme cases, suicidal. The need to prove themselves and have a purpose can be a heavy burden on them. But they feel Independent! They do not want anyone to think they are immature or controllable, so they withdraw into themselves for the strength and courage to keep going.
This is when they need a friend the most. The best friend who would always be supportive, non-stop. A friend who would care about their success and wellbeing more than they. What friend could be as selfless as you, their own parent? Trust me; an essential tip of positive parenting is by being a good friend to your teen. Your teen wants this more than you know.
They need your guidance and direction without feeling bossed around. If you can be so close and guiding without taking the independence from your teen, he will be more willing to share things with you and be more transparent.
While doing this, rest assured that you would not lose the least respect from your teen. When you shower your teen with understanding, acknowledgment, and authenticity, you get even more of what you give.
Just like a close friend would respect you because of how you treat him. Your teen would come to love and respect you more. This will strengthen the bond more and make it easy for you to influence his life positively.
However, you should note that irrespective of how you want to be close to your teen and give him the respect he wants. You need to be able to take your stand as a parent when it is necessary. Some things can not be negotiated.
Sometimes, your teenager could be torn between making decisions and would need you to make the best possible one for him even though it does not seem like he does. (Especially when he makes it seem like he does not want your help).
2. Make time out to spend with your teenager
Regularly checking in on your teenager can affirm the care and love you have for him. Doing this shows that you genuinely care about his well-being. This could make him open up more to you. Even if you do not get to spend much time together, check up on your teenager. It could be right before going to bed, while you are both doing chores, etc.
This can open a communication channel for both of you. You will definitely ace parenthood by doing something as simple as this. You can also set a timeout in a week, or bi-weekly, where you both go somewhere fun or do something fun together. It could be fishing, makeup shopping, grocery shopping, anything that puts the two of you together, away from the chaos of everyday life.
These simple moments can be so revealing. It makes your teenager feel loved and cared for. You can learn a lot from the conversations you have during these periods.
3. Parenting properly
As parents, we find it hard to admit that our children are growing up. You need to snap out of that euphoria. It is hard to acknowledge that, I know, but refusing to give your teenager the freedom and acknowledgment that he craves can insight rebellion.
The best and proper thing to do is to take note of their whereabouts; Who he would be with, where he would be, what he or they would be doing there, etc. You can even go as far as befriending the parents of their friends for easier communication and familiarity.
4. Make time to be around when school is over
Most teenagers who get supervised less tend to do the wrong things. After school is the period for all the goings-on in their life. Try to be available for your teen after school. You can pick him up yourself from school or make him know that you will be waiting for his arrival after school. If he and his friends have to go somewhere, ensure that a responsible adult strictly supervises them.
5. Communication should be Effective
Strive to build good communication between you and your teen to be aware of all that is happening. Failure to do this, and you may find yourself not knowing what the problem is when there is one, or how to solve it. Your teen can keep you in the dark about their activities. That can cause a strain on your relationship with him.
6. Strive to share mealtime together
Eating meals together is one of the best ways to make your teenager communicate more with you. Eating makes them feel more relaxed and open. You get to find out what goes on in their life. What problems they are facing, the kinds of things they do, who they do them with.
Opening up can do a lot of good for your teenager. They will look forward to having moments like these where they can unwind and talk about their life. Doing this can strengthen the bond you both share.
7. Foster Great Self-Care
A good diet and enough hours of sleep can keep both mind and body at their best. Encourage your teen to practice good self-care. You will both reap the benefits. Discourage your teen from staying up too late, taking excessive alcohol or coffee.
A healthy body and a healthy mind perform better. You can set out a time at night where every device has to be turned off. This facilitates going to bed early.
8. Be the perfect role model
In the heat of frustration and conflict with your child, you need to remain as mature and authentic as you can be. Instead of yelling at your teen, stay calm, and learn to navigate how you both deal with the situation. If you act out when you and your teen are having a conflict, they will mirror your actions.
Being in conflict with your teen is an opportunity to teach them how to act when they face stress. Your teens are watching your every move and action. If they feel like you are expecting them to do something you are not doing yourself, there will be conflict.
Controlling a stressful situation without losing your cool will earn you the respect and admiration of your teens. They will follow your lead.
9. Family meetings are super important
One way to ace parenthood with your teenager is by holding periodic family meetings. When held properly, family meetings can resolve so many issues in the family. They can help your teen open up more and talk about his feelings, fears, problems, or grievances. It would be best to make the meeting a safe place for everyone to relax and be open without fear of rebukes or negative feedback.
Your teen should be able to talk and be listened to. If you find it hard to make them attend, you can add after-meeting incentives like treats. Another great way to get everyone involved is to delegate tasks to everyone. The family meetings need regulators, and delegating simple tasks like these can get your teens more involved.
10. Set expectations and consequences
Accept that your teen will get rebellious at some time in their teenage life. It is usual with their struggle for independence. When this happens, be sure to have some guiding rules and regulations that you expect your teen to follow. You should create these rules with the consequences that will follow if they broke them.
This is a way to enforce limits without creating conflict. When your child breaks a rule, you do not need to yell or threaten. Since you have already spelled out the consequences of breaking the rule, your child will know what to expect from crossing those set boundaries.
Keep in mind that the consequences of breaching a rule are meant to teach rather than punishing your teen. Rules are set guidelines on how you want your teen to act at home, school, and elsewhere. The repercussions for failing at this should be to make your teen learn rather than feel controlled. Therefore you should not dish out the consequences of an action as an ultimatum. The teen might see that as a challenge.
No matter how independent a child might want to feel, deep in their hearts, they need emotional support from the family to stay firm while finding out their identity. They can try to get it from their peers, although sooner or later, they will find out that their peers are just as uncertain as they are, and they will need a solid foundation to fall back on. It would help if you let your teens depend on you emotionally till they can get independent. That closeness they crave, give it to them.
You might not get the desired results you need right now; however, your teen will come around with time and patience. So when you try but nothing seems to work, it is because they need just a little bit more patience each time!