Viewing your teen as a developing adult can improve your relationship
Does every conversation with your teenager end in a screaming match? Does your teen consistently respond to you with silence or scorn? Are you at a complete loss on how to improve your relationship with this very important person in your life? This article will offer you some guidance on how to make life with your teenage child better for both of you.
- work to support and embrace the teen you have–not the one you wanted or expected
- solve problems as a team
- offer help and support, but do NOT rescue
- have fun
- be kind to yourself and to your teen
- believe that the teen years must be difficult and unpleasant
- see yourself as the only influence in your child’s life
- see every mistake or problem as a catastrophe
- always trust your first instinct about how to respond
- believe that things are hopeless
Do work to support and embrace the teen you have–not the one you wanted or expected
Many parents run into trouble because they have difficulty giving up the expectations they brought into parenting. If your son is not the athlete you hoped for, or your daughter is not the student you had imagined, you may put a lot of energy into trying to create your imaginary child. This can lead to a great deal of conflict. However, chances are, you actually have a lovely person in front of you, so embrace and support this person.
Do solve problems as a team
When parents and teens experience conflict, everyone’s voice should be heard and everyone’s opinion should be considered. Ideally, solutions should be acceptable to everyone. Part of your job as a parent is to give your child practice in thinking, speaking and acting as an independent person. Help your teen accomplish this.
Do offer help and support, but do NOT rescue
As a parent, you care so deeply about what happens to your children that it can be very difficult to allow them the freedom they need to grow. But when your teen has a problem, you should offer sympathy, support and suggestions; however, your teen should be the primary problem-solver. Keep in mind that the older your children get, the more their lives should be in their hands. You are not responsible for every problem, and you can’t solve every problem for them.
Do have fun
Nobody wants to be in a relationship that never feels good. Relationships with teenagers tend to revolve around what they’re not doing, what they should be doing, and what mistakes they have made. Make sure things feel good to both of you. Try to share a movie, a special breakfast, a joke. You and your teen should know that you can still enjoy each other.
Do be kind to yourself and to your teen
Understand that teenagers are often very challenging. As a parent, you may be scared by the risks they take, as well as feel anger at the way they speak to you and the choices they make. Remember they are learning to deal with the world, and you are learning to deal with them. Everyone deserves compassion in the struggles that come with learning something new.
Do not believe that the teen years must be difficult and unpleasant
Media, friends, family, and even strangers frequently warn parents about how miserable life will be once their kids become teenagers. While teenagers can definitely make parents want to pull their hair out in frustration, they can also be interesting and delightful. It is exciting to watch your son or daughter grow and mature into an adult. It is often fun to be in the company of young people and to share in their different perspectives on the world. Embrace this.
Do not see yourself as the only influence in your child’s life
As a parent, you are crucially important in your child’s life. However, for better or for worse, countless other influences also affect your child. While this can be scary, remember that you are not responsible for everything–good or bad–that happens to your child. You do not create every problem, and you cannot solve every problem.
Do not see every mistake or problem as a catastrophe
Part of what makes parenting teens difficult is that part of how they learn and grow is by making mistakes. Consequently, parents should be helpful, but most problems should be solved by your teen, and not by you. Be available when your teen asks for help or advice, but allow them to make mistakes.
Do not always trust your first instinct about how to respond
Many people respond to worry, disappointment, anger and other difficult emotions too harshly, and then have regrets after the fact. If you and your teen are fighting, or you have just been told something difficult, consider taking a timeout and re-visiting the conversation later. Also, consider consulting a trusted friend or relative during your timeout to discuss the situation. This can help you get much-needed perspective.
Do not believe that things are hopeless
Positive change is always possible, even if it feels miserably slow. Although your teen may not be showing it, he or she wants a better relationship, just as you do. Small steps, such as a positive shared moment, can add up to large progress over time.
Your teenager needs your love and support to succeed. Work to see your teen as a developing adult, who can be frustrating, and whose actions can be alarming. Try to treasure the child you have and to enjoy each other whenever possible, while working to solve the inevitable problems as a team. Show compassion for both you and your child, as we are all works in progress as we try to be the best parents we can be.