The teenage years seldom present smooth sailing for parents but there are some things you can do to make the waters calmer.
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Your teenager can bring you much joy, hope, excitement but they can also bring confusion, disappointment and at times, despair. It is a unique time for everyone in the family and there are roles and tasks that your teen will want to adopt. They can become very self-focused, question authority, test their own power within the family and expect to be treated as an independent adult when they are not ready for that. Making the transition through these years to see them become happy, caring and resourceful young men or women is the goal of many parents.
One of the main problems parents face with raising teens is that there are often no clear cut answers to problems. However, all people need to feel loved and supported, and as parents of teens your role is to demonstrate this often and never give up on them. This can be challenging at times but there are some general tips that you can follow:
1. Include your teen in decisions that affect him or her. Telling your 16 year old he’ll be going to a family slide-show at Aunty Joan’s on Saturday night might be met with an argument, unless it was discussed prior. Try to have realistic expectations.
2. Balance more freedoms with firm boundaries and consequences for breaking them.
3. Listen a lot more than you talk. Show curiosity, not judgment. Reserve your opinion.
4. Talk about things your teen is interested in, even if you are not. Teens want to share with you what they know rather than listen to what you know. They often still like you watching their sport and attending school concerts etc.
5. Always show your support and pride in their achievements. Forgive their mistakes.
6. Try to spend a few minutes each day in one-to-one time with your teen. Quantity counts. A quick chat in the car, a few minutes doing the dishes together can make all the difference.
7. Give them their privacy. Their room is a sacred space and parents now need to knock and wait.
8. Tell them you love them and, very importantly why. Tell them you’re glad you had them.
9. Continue to be physically affectionate with your teen but choose your moments. Being embarrassed of your affection in front of his/her friends is normal and can put unwanted pressure on a teen.
10. Find time to have fun with your teen and enjoy a laugh together. Keep it light.
One of the best ways of improving your teen-parenting is to talk to other parents in a focused learning environment. This is particularly helpful when it comes to issues of safety and compliance with your rules. It also extends to concerns about social media and use of technology such as smart phones and computer gaming or time. Parents can have very different rules and management strategies around these activities.
Our parenting courses are run by experienced and qualified facilitators (who are also parents) and can provide a lot of useful information, as well as an opportunity for significant discussion. Raising teens can be fun and joining our groups of similar minded parents can help you maintain connection with your teen and harmony in your family.