Raising a child doesn’t mean that you can always go by the book that you picked up at the book store down the street. If it did, the task would be much easier. All children relate to different actions, re-actions and approaches; which of course makes them like the rest of us humans.
When you have your first child, you are so content and anxious to start the process of being a parent. You think your love will carry you through the hard times without a doubt. You are not apt to think about the teenage years you are facing. The teenage years with your son or daughter are probably the most testing time of parenthood, and after the first, it can be something that parents are reluctant to think about.
I hope this article will help you take the experience one day at a time and learn how to bridge some of the communication gap that often exists.
As your child goes from toddler to youngster to tween to teenager, something in what you say gets lost in translation. They can give you that blank stare as if the words that are coming out of your mouth sound like the unseen teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. It’s not easy to improve the communication bridges with a teen but it’s important to try to get through to them in some fashion; as these years and the choices they make now will have a vital impact on their future. Raising Kids for True Greatness: Redefine Success for You and Your Child
Here are a few tips that you can think about for Parenting Teenagers:
1. Watch your own body language is important. How you move says a lot about you, not just with adults, but with children. When a person is tired, they tend to slump. When angered, the jaw muscles tighten and the eyes narrow into slits. Believe it or not, teenagers are good at interpreting body language. This body language will betray you when you are talking to them. It is always best to keep it open and honest. If you can avoid sitting with your arms crossed, eyes looking away from them or squirming in your seat, it will give them a sense of; “this is going to be a good conversation.”
2. Making eye contact: When you do not look at the person you are talking to, it says that you are either hiding something, or you are not at all interested in what they have to say. Most teenagers will shut down emotionally when they suspect that you are not “tuned in” to them. Sitting comfortably and giving a teen undivided attention with consistent eye contact; lets them know that you care.
3. Keeping emotions in check, especially the ones where you want to scream “what is wrong with you?” Usually a question we want to ask after we find out they have done something way out of character. Remember back to when you were a teenager. Some of the things you said to your parents were aimed at freaking them out. Teenagers will push your buttons if they can; it is just in their nature. Defy, defy, defy. It is best to stay calm and not go overboard and get upset. This is not always an easy task. Their target is the situations that they know will make you mad. Instead, take a deep breath and ignore the taunt. Do the opposite of what they expect because really, they want you to see through their ploy and find out the real problem. Sometimes it is just simply needing the right course to take in their life, and someone who cares to listen.
4. Often asking them about their day; can break the ice. This technique works with spouses also. Even if your teen only grunts or says the obligatory, “It was okay,” ask anyway. Your show of caring will go a long way to convince them that you are interested in the things that they do and how they feel.
5. Always being honest with them is definitely the option to take. If you don’t understand the situation they are talking about then say so. Children know when you are being insincere. Maybe they need to discuss the situation until you get an idea of where they are coming from. When you can get them to open up; the teen will not mind explaining as long as they know you are listening.
6. Allowing them their privacy and giving them respect; will make them feel more at ease. This one is tricky and since you know your child better than anyone else, you can draw the line. Teens value their time alone, and being respectful of their privacy and their feelings, will go a long way in their respect of you and your privacy. While the policy in your home may be that there are no locks on the doors, it will help their feelings if you always show respect by knocking before entering. If they don’t want to be pressed about a situation in school, with a friend, or boyfriend; wait until they are ready (if it’s not urgent) and then talk about it.
These are only a few pointers about parenting teenagers. There are many more and lots of things to can be learned along the path for everyone. Parenting a teenager takes a tough skin, sometimes, and a willingness to be vulnerable with lots of love. We all make mistakes but whatever you do, don’t ever stop talking.
P.S. Yes, I lived through these years and no it wasn’t always easy. I had no experience with parenting teenagers; so I learned this as he grew from one step to the other. I was blessed that my son never had problems with alcohol, drugs or indecent behaviors. But, there were other issues that I had to deal with that were challenging as he was hyperactive and mischievous. We had problems in school that we had to work with, we were not always successful, and yes, I finally had to stop letting it drive me crazy and take “one day at a time.”