Oh, to be a teenager again. I remember my teenage years very fondly compared to the stresses of being a parent and head of the household. As adults and parents many of us are faced with unending bills and various responsibilities that can sometimes get the best of all of us. As adults we have to deal with more complex issues and responsibilities that may have surpassed our wildest dreams and expectations. Clearly, when we were younger, we never fully understood the complexities of being an adult until you became one. Naturally, your teenage child may not be able to fully comprehend this truth. However, that does not mean the situations they have to deal with is any less important to them and understanding this helps us better communicate with our teens.
In todays world it can be especially tougher to be a teenager than it was in our time, it is important to be able to respect and understand that your child may be going through some very stressful times. This means that it helps to be able to acknowledge in ourselves that while we may be under stress from jobs, bills or other situations, our child may be under stress too and his or her stress is in no way inferior to yours. Helping them through their stress and showing that our own stress does not get us down and that we can overcome can help our kids grow into resiliant adults.
Many parents of teenagers often fall into the trap of a power struggle with their children once they hit adolescence. This happens because this is the stage in your child’s life where he or she will begin to assert their own identity and this may cause the unprepared parent to feel threatened in importance and authority.
It is however very important and key to understand that our child is indeed an individual and it is therefore very equally important for him or her to be able to adjust properly into adulthood. Instead of feeling threatened and acting on the offensive, it is necessary to be the magnanimous and understanding party here. This means that you will need to learn to choose your battles wisely.
I don’t like the word battle. Instead, think of it as finding win win situation for you and your teenage child. This will allow you and your child to avoid unnecessary stresses. Learning when it is important to assert yourself and when it’s ok to just let things slide can be a difficult process for a parent because naturally, you will want to control every situation to ensure the safety and happiness of your child. However, realize that you need to prepare your child for the challenges of adulthood and being a control freak will certainly not help and can be quite counter productive. Please understand that this does not mean being a permissive parent, it is still important to set boundaries and guidelines.
You will need to understand that giving in is not a sign of weakness. In fact, being flexible and understanding is a true sign of courage and strength and in time, your teenage child will grow up into adulthood and hopefully learn and incorporate this piece of wisdom into his or her life. Also, knowing when to give in and when to set your foot down will show your child that you trust their judgment and are willing to treat them as grown ups. Putting your foot down when necessary communicates the point that they are not adults yet and will still need to depend and look to you as a guide.
If you are having difficulty deciding when you can bend when you have to stand your ground when it comes to issues with your teenage child, you can decide to categorize concerns into to classifications: temporary and life changing. While you may think that everything your teenage child goes through now is life changing, nit picking about cleaning up a messy room or eating vegetables is something that you can give them a little leeway on.
The teenage years are the final years of childhood. We need to give them room to grow and let them make some of their own mistakes. As parents we will not always be there in person and they will need to learn to stand up for themselves and cope with their own mistakes. Parents despite being much older may have the wisdom and the answers to some of life’s problems but some things are better learned in the eyes of the teenager. When they need us we need to be there for them and show them suppor and to also be there to help coach them through difficult situations. What is most important is building the level of trust and love in your child so that no matter what goes wrong in their life they always have someone to talk to and to know that they can rebound from any situation. It is important they know that they will be ok.