When you think about having children, you usually envisage the cute pre-teenage years, where your baby is exploring the world and having a lot of fun doing so. That’s not to say that you don’t want to be there to support your children into adulthood, but let’s be honest here, contending with a hormone-filled teenager who answers every question with no, why? or go away is hardly up there with the things that we consider to be a) easy, and b) enjoyable.
Nevertheless, you love your kids, and you want to have a healthy relationship with them at all ages. Here’s how to battle through those tough teenage years.
Remember that this is a time for exploration
A little bit of understanding goes a long way when it comes to teenagers, and it’s important to remember that this is a time for exploration, both of the self and the world around them. The transition into adulthood is a difficult and complex period, and they’re going to get some things wrong. However, they can only do this by having the freedom to explore a multitude of experiences, and you have to let them do so.
Be a listening ear
Most of the time, teenagers want to discuss things with an adult who understands and listens to them, but they fear judgment and negative consequences. If your teenager discusses a subject with you such as drinking or relationships, and you respond by grounding them or cutting them off from their friends, then you can pretty much guarantee that they’re not going to talk to you about these things again, so be a listening ear.
Give them the support that they need
Instead of going crazy when your teenagers are caught up in sticky situations, give them advice and support (even if you have to be a little stern with it). Whether this looks like teen drug addiction treatment or advising them on career and academic choices, it’s important that you play a role in any healing that needs to take place. A lot of the time, genuine support is preferable over anger and negative reactions.
Allow them some space
Teenagers are annoying in a lot of ways. They slam doors, rarely appear from their bedrooms, and they may go out and not give you too much detail about where they are going. It’s difficult to deal with this, especially if you’re prone to worrying, but give them the space that they need instead of cutting out this behavior altogether. Make an effort to bring them into family gatherings, but don’t force it all of the time.
Treat them like adults
Your teenage years are a difficult-to-navigate patch between childhood and adulthood. In general, teens want to be treated with a more mature attitude from their parents, so it’s important to accept the fact that they aren’t really children anymore. Respect their autonomy and allow them more control, even if it’s only over certain things. If you make an effort here, your teenager will see it and be grateful that you have done so.