Parenting a Teenager: Understanding and Guiding Adolescents
In today’s social environment, teenagers are bombarded with all kinds of information. Their struggle is not limited to their hormonal changes or career expectations. Every day’s peer pressure, information bombardment from social media, TV and the internet are a part of their struggle. In such conditions, today’s parents are finding it difficult to stay connected with their kids now and then.
Whether you are authoritarian parents or permissive parents, you should always be aware of the needs of our children at various developmental stages. Children from 0 to 6 years of age are blessed to have parents who are their first teachers. From ages 7 to 14, parents can be termed as coaches who are supporting them in their endeavors, making them more and more independent. During the High School and College years, young adults wish to break out from anything that limits their growth and are learning to become their own people. Parents assume the roles of guides matching strides with their children and giving them life lessons along the way. After turning 21, the young citizens are ready to claim their place in the world and parents are the supporters who encourage them from the sidelines to make their mark in a brave new world.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you sail through the journey easily.
1. Emphasise on your child’s interests
Many times it has been witnessed that parents do confront their adolescent on unfamiliar interests (computer games, music and friends). But either they end up criticising or simply ignoring, treating it as one more difference that is setting them apart.
Instead, parents could choose to bridge the difference by asking the adolescent if he /she could help them to love and appreciate the music they are listening to. Can they teach them how they can play the computer game?
Now, not only does the difference become a vehicle for connection, but it does so in an esteem-filling way for an adolescent.
2. Try to avoid generalisation while having discussions with your teenager
At times when parents need to address some issues and concerns with their adolescents, these discussions end up into arguments and emotional outbursts. Remember selection of the right language is the key to make these discussions fruitful and effective for the teenager.
Generally, what happens during a parent and teenager discussions is that the parent tends to use abstract terms like ‘you are irresponsible ’, ‘you are careless’, ‘you are inconsiderate’, etc. These terms come from the parent’s frustration and emotional pain and more than doing good. These terms insult the teenager and make them more defensive.
Instead, parents can state their complaint by objectively describing their cause of concern. Like, “we need to talk, how you will keep yourself safe if you want to attend the party. Every parent in the city today concerned about his/her child’s safety from drugs and criminals, and we are no exception”.
Let us look at how we can be ‘cool’ parents. We all want to raise children who others as well us we are proud of. Nobody wishes to be parents who worry constantly about their children’s physical, mental, psychological, spiritual health and wellbeing. The parents whose children embody 21st Century learning skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication among others. Successful parenting is also about raising self-sufficient, independent individuals who are compassionate and good human beings.
Quite simply, we should take time out of our busy schedules to be with our children at least for an hour every day. Quality time is significant. We can spend as much time as possible with our children but it should be time that helps us to get closer to our children, to connect with them, to celebrate their lives, to support them in their dark hours.
We must endeavor that our children are well balanced, independent, mindful, tolerant, and knowledgeable enough to make a wise choice. It is in our hands to mould them into becoming excellent examples to other young people. If they are encouraged to be humane and to work towards making our world a better place for all and especially to focus on making ‘India shining’, then they will surely work to make our country glorious and our world beautiful.