Coping With An Impossible Teenager
Parenting a teenager should not only come with a manual, it should offer some sort of Nobel Prize at the end of it. Unfortunately, neither of those things are provided for the parents of a teenager and life can be very challenging. It can help to listen to the voice of experience and reason. Look over the following tips on parenting a teen that can help make it a little easier for you.
1. Remember what being a teenager was like. Peer pressure and social anxiety, educational demands, hormones, self-discovery, first dates and breaking-up; sound familiar? It’s tough being a teenager and perfectly normal to rebel when you are under all that pressure. Try to relate a little and view things from their perspective; it will help you reach a middle-ground.
2. If you can’t understand them, at least listen. Maybe the jargon is incomprehensible or the outfits too outrageous, but your teenager needs you to pay attention to the things that are important to them. Be a good listener without passing judgement and you will lift a huge burden off of the relationship, not to mention giving your child a much needed place to vent and express themselves.
3. Remember how much they need you now, even if they don’t act like it. Being a teenager can be devastating on the ego; rejection, inadequacy and temptations abound. If you are always condemning or disciplining, they may feel like you are rejecting them too. Be a parent, but be a person too. Your teenager needs guidance and a voice of reason and may look for it elsewhere, if necessary.
4. Give them freedom incrementally. It might be scary, but you’ve got to let them go a little bit. Offer them new freedoms as they prove responsible in others; make deals with them that if met, lead to new opportunities to show they are trustworthy.
5. Try to brush-off the little things. Jumping on your teenager for every little thing they do will push them away further and keep you in a constant state of stress. Learn to manage your temper and ration the discipline; reserve it for the most important things that will offer your teenager the most over-all value.
6. Make trust a mutual exchange. If you want them to be worthy of trust, you’ve got to lead by example. Stay true to your word, avoid snooping around on them unless it’s under extreme circumstances, like suspecting drug or alcohol abuse, and just be there for them. If they know they can depend on you no matter what, they will have more confidence and a clearer identity to make the right decisions when it really counts.
Eventually kids grow up and you can all look back on these teenage years and smile, right? No matter how much it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels and pulling your hair out now, it will get better! Learn from others and lean on them too and you will all grow as individuals and as a family.