Parenting a teenager can be a mind-boggling experience.
One minute they are yelling things like:
“I hate you!"
“Don’t speak to me.”
“Nobody else’s parents do that.”
The next minute you are holding their head while they are sick, they ask you to borrow the car or they want to snuggle up next to you on the couch. It’s enough to make your head spin and cause you to question, “Is this the same kid who said he never wanted to see me again minutes ago?”
Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart. When parents who are currently raising teens compare notes with those who have lived to tell about it, you might think there really is a universal playbook teens use to make parents question their sanity. At any given moment, you may even wish you could ground your teenager for life. BUT, that would defeat the whole purpose of adolescence.
Adolescence is when children learn the skills and strategies of adults and that takes time and patience. But honestly, the process can be painful for the whole family.
Consider these things:
Parenting experts say that one of the reasons adolescence is so challenging is that parents often don’t recognize the strongest needs of their teen.
Parents look into their teen’s world through adult eyes and needs. They tend to miss all of the change and internal conflict their teen is experiencing in continuing to have their needs for belonging, freedom, power and fun met.
Parents need to feel in control whereas their adolescent is competing for his freedom.
Both parent and teen have well-developed strategies for getting their needs met. These differing needs and strategies often intensify to the point that the relationship between parent and child becomes strained.
During adolescence, kids need adult intervention more than ever before. Adults should not assume that once teens begin to look like adults they will automatically start thinking like an adult, relating like mature adults and making responsible decisions.
If you are leading an adolescent into mature adulthood, here are a few things to consider:
Remember your own teenage struggles.
Don’t panic. It is important not to let your fears control you.
Don’t overreact. Most teens say they do not open up to their parents because they tend to overreact.
Make sure to handle things in a way that builds your teen up versus tearing them down.
Take time to enter your teen’s world – spend time with them, listen to their music, get to know their friends.
Provide direction according to their needs… not yours.
Understand that teens don’t want you to fix it for them. They want you to listen to them. A teen’s self-confidence is built through learning to problem solve and come up with reasonable solutions.
Separate the behavior from the teen. Love your teen, but don’t be afraid to deal with unacceptable behavior.
Develop a support network of parents who have been there, done that.
Remember, you and your spouse are on the same team.
Raising teenagers is a predictable challenge for most parents. Keep perspective and recognize you will survive. After all, your parents did.