You know what tests your patience even more than travelling via traffic-clogged Silk Board in Bangalore – parenting a teen! 🙂 Every day is like a permanent roller coaster ride. You really don’t know when all is going right and you suddenly plunge and completely lose your breath and when you are apprehensive but the ride just nudges along smoothly. Teenage is a time of apprehension for both the child and the parents. Suddenly you find yourself oscillating between deep despair and confusion, ten times on daily basis. Your perfectly fine, obedient child is now rebellious, moody, weepy, questions everything you say and generally is the epitome of obnoxious. To add to the woes, they suddenly gain inches. You feel even more intimidated as they glare down at you and give you either confused or plain scary looks.
Here are the issues I grapple with:
Too much or too little discipline: Teenagers test their limits of freedom and those of your patience incessantly. While some of us become way too strict, there are others who become too soft because who has the energy to argue with the always-on-war-path teen. In my opinion, it is a balance that we all strive for but find very difficult to fathom and achieve. Before you launch into a lecture on restraint, let me flash dirty clothes, torn jeans, shabby, uncut hair and messy rooms in front of your eyes. Are they always absent-minded or is it especially for the benefit of parents? Add to it the frequent bouts of amnesia and deafness. Everything is heard only after 4-5 loud yells. When asked to look for something, be ready to never have it found.
Which approach works: Every teen is different hence every teen needs to be handled differently. Easier said than done because you really no longer know how to behave around them. Yet, if your child is naturally responsible and mature, give her more freedom. Allow her to engage in her interests. She will anyway no matter what you think. On the other hand, if your teen is more difficult and volatile, handle them firmly. Be around to supervise them. Allow them age-appropriate decision making but be more conscious in following up and monitoring. Between you and me, implementing these approaches will make handling a bad boss seem like a breeze.
How to get through to them: While children overall seem more irreverent these days (I am sure every generation of parents has felt this way), teens take the cake and the bakery. It is the age of raging hormones and getting a teen to listen and do what you’ve asked seems like trying to climb Everest on a daily basis. Well, keep at it, I guess. What is the option, anyway? Try to be consistent; be fair and be patient most of all especially when they have the headphones on when you are talking to them or sing loudly in that squealing voice or… you get the drift! These few years test your love for them and hopefully the storm passes by the time they reach the end of teens.
Don’t sweat the small stuff: Easier said than done but in the larger scheme of things, it works better to concentrate on the bigger picture. If overall your teen seems to be thriving, is in control of things, handles things maturely and is generally well-behaved, perhaps a few stray instances can be overlooked. Don’t believe the worst of your child though they give you ample reasons to do so. Perhaps they will feel more trusted and will behave better. Hope is all we’ve got. 😀
Be involved: Do not overlook any alarming signs that your teen exhibits. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex or any other topics that most parents generally shy away from discussing, it works well if you have discussions about these with your teens. Do not allow them to drive underage or give them access to too much money. Know their peers even if you may not like them. Sometimes you may foresee a bad choice or decision but let them make the mistake if it is something not too serious. A teen may think otherwise but this is the time when they need a parent’s firm yet loving hand to guide them. Be ready for lots of resistance and invasion of privacy barbs while you try to stay ‘involved’.
What to talk to them: Remember that you are human too with your failings, your bad days, your temper troubles etc. Share your tough moments and failings with them. Emphasize that a parent is not superhuman and goes through bad patches. Define what you will not hear/tolerate from your child. It is best to keep communicating often with your teen even if all you hear in response are grunts and protests. 🙂
Are you a parent of a teen? Any tips to share with me?
PS: This is a realistic yet exaggerated and hopefully funny account of a teen’s parent. My teen is not like this! (He reads my posts) 😀
Top Pic courtesy: Shutterstock