Despite how difficult long, sleepless nights and toddler taming can seem, for many parents, one of the most challenging times in terms of family relationships, is when children enter into their teen years. Suddenly, issues that never seemed to arise in the past, such as independence, boundaries and a newfound quest for freedom, can throw parents off course, causing them to feel even more insecure than when they first held their baby in their arms. All relationships have their ups and downs, however, and like most tough times, the teen years pass by all too quickly and before we know it, our children are off to University or working and as we recall magical memories and perhaps even finding the comical side to even tense situations at home, we realise that every step of our relationship with our kids has inspired us to be better, stronger and more empathetic. Keeping these tips in mind may make your journey with your teen a little easier:
- Monitor your teens without seeming too controlling. You should always know where they are and with whom, and make sure they have a safe way of getting to and from events.
- Set limits but try to involve teens in important decisions, so they feel like they have some say in the rules to be obeyed. Be a good role model by following rules yourself (like being on time for meals together, etc.).
- Connect daily with your teen. Do things together (like chores or errands) and have at least one good talk a day, in which your child does most of the talking. Research indicates that there are many topics teens wish they could speak more about with their parents; these include sex and drugs, deep philosophical questions, their parent’s own teenage experiences, family issues (rules, money matters, etc.), their future and their parents’ feelings. This just about puts the myth that kids don’t want to spend time or speak with their parents, to rest.
- Welcome your children’s friends at home and try to get to know friends’ parents as well.
- If your child is in a situation of conflict with other kids at school or with an adult (e.g. a teacher), ask them questions like “Why do you think they said that?” “How can we solve this issue?” instead of automatically ‘fixing it all’ for your child.
- Allow them freedom in matters that do not violate yours or others’ rights. The teenage years are often when our kids will begin to dress differently and experiment with their creativity.
- Read up on the subject of teen parenting. Many parents have claimed that one excellent read has provided the exact technique that works wonders with their child so don’t give up until you find the approach which works best.
- Choose your battles: If you have to argue or set limits, make sure it’s about something that really matters; otherwise your word will lose force and anything you say will be seen as an attempt to assert excessive control.
- Talk about difficult issues like tobacco use, drugs and sex in a non-preachy manner. Inform your teen of the risks and consequences of certain activities in their pre-teen years, before they become relevant.
- Respect your child’s privacy. If communication flows freely then there is no need to spy on diaries, e-mails, etc.
As you child grows older, they will face different challenges and responsibilities; you will too as a parent! Learn to adapt and enjoy watching your child go through their teenage years. Have you got any tips yourself? Let us know!