“Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can’t decide what kind of flower you’ll get or in which season it will bloom.”
As parents, we often find ourselves sometimes fighting between our minds and our hearts when it comes to relating with our adolescents, thus making parenting seem like balancing on a tightrope. This is because we are aware that one inappropriate response can dampen a child’s spirit, whereas the right response helps it soar. Each moment in our parenting journey presents us with the opportunity to make or break, to nourish or suppress, to correct or to connect, to be conventional or unconventional. Having spent much time researching and consulting with experts, we have some parenting tips to help you keep the communication lines open with your adolescent and reduce the challenges of the teenage years.
- Don’t Feel Rejected by Their Newfound Independence. During adolescence, they tend to withdraw from their parents and rely more and more on friends, but parents often mistake this withdrawal as rejection. Your child is establishing his or her autonomy and making the transition to adulthood. So, this is not about you. It is about their need to discover themselves and learn the ropes of adulthood which is often signified by independence. Studies have found that excessive monitoring by parents was not effective in preventing teen lying or teen alcohol use. That’s because teens lie more when their parents are overly controlling.
- Release Your Children from the Need for Your Approval. By tying our teenagers to our approval, we bind them to us without realizing it, making them slaves to our perceptions of them. If we continually deny them our approval or constantly require them to depend on it, we will lead them astray. Can you imagine how it must feel for a child to be starved of our approval and fearful of our disapproval? Imagine how different this must be from knowing they are accepted and honoured unconditionally. Many adolescents have gone astray desperately seeking approval from parents as have many because of being starved of it. Adolescence is a phase of personality shaping and identity consolidation. By helping our adolescents grow into their own entities, their very own person as handed them by the Grand Organized Designer, you empower them for life to stay confident in themselves.
- Don’t Be Overly Judgmental. We all make mistakes. But when we do, we must learn to first forgive ourselves, understanding that we were well-intentioned, and then let go of the matter. We also want our friends to forgive us if we offend them, understanding that we were well-meaning, and let it be. We should also introduce these elements into our parenting approach to our adolescents when they make mistakes. They are at a phase of life where words can easily shape them or break them. Mistakes should not be viewed as something to latch on to and perpetually punish the perpetrator, rather they should be viewed as opportunities to learn. Isn’t this how we want to ‘critiqued’ when we make mistakes too?
- Nurture Your Boy’s Emotional Side. Our male children are increasingly being conditioned by culture and society to “be a man” and as such, they are gradually losing touch with their emotions. This is extremely dangerous. By hiding their emotions, they are prevented from learning the art of proper communication. This lack of communication makes it tough to navigate conflict. When you can’t work through problems, they’ll probably keep happening repeatedly and that’s not good. Society says that anything that has to do with real feelings; love, sadness, vulnerability, is girly, therefore bad. Of course, this is not true but while awareness is ongoing to change that cultural perception, it is critical that the home becomes a psychologically safe haven for your sons where your boys are encouraged to be sensitive and vulnerable at home, while at the same time acknowledging the reality that those traits might not go over well at school.
- Grow Your Girl’s Self-esteem. The rates at which our teenage girls are uncomfortable with their body image is scary and alarming as it’s one of the leading causes of suicide. As a mother, you have to model body acceptance. Set a good example.How you accept your body and talk about others’ bodies can have a major impact on your teenage daughter. If you are a single father, you need to get a mother figure in her life who would model this to her. It could be her grandma, a counsellor in your place of worship, a mentor, a teacher, any female with the same values as you that she could look up to, will do just fine. Also, do not raise her as a ‘people pleaser’. It is one of the most damaging things to do to a daughter because she then grows into a woman without a voice. Encourage her to stand up for what she needs and wants. Create opportunities for her to use her voice. Ask her what she wants and let her make that choice to honour that choice. Help her build skills that are independent of appearance.
These are just a few of the many tips to parent a teenager. Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to leave your comments below. What else do you feel that parents of teenagers should do?
The first of four courses in the TRAIN-UP series has been launched! If you want to know how to train up your adolescent not to deviate from family values or how to raise a 21st -century teen/tween using unconventional parenting tools and DIY approaches to everyday parenting scenarios, then this course is for you!!! You will be taken on an evolutionary mindset shift that will foster the nurturing of an open and friendly relationship between you and your adolescent. What’s more? All through the duration of the course, you will have access to real-time counselling sessions with TBOG! To know more about this, click here…