One of the hardest roles anyone can have today is that of a single mother, and to be the mother of a teenager has it’s own list of challenges. Teenagers and their mothers need to come together with open communication of their needs and desires in order to have a happy, healthy relationship. You both may feel you are already embarking on a difficult journey without all the resources needed. Teens wont know how to ask for help, so as the parent you will need to take the initiative. There aren’t always easy answers but here are some ideas to get started.
Be the parent first, then the friend. It is important that you set rules, boundaries and consequences. Don’t give up on those standards because you are tired, discouraged, or feel you own your child a break. The other parent who is not there may not be supportive of your ideals and efforts as a parent but don’t allow that to make you give up. Writing rules down and having the same consequences with each parent is impertinent. Never punish them when they are being honest with you or they may keep secrets from you.
Don’t be too lenient because you feel you must compensate for the other parent being gone or that you must be gone a lot. You will not make things any better by allowing that excuse for your teen to get away with bad behavior. You can’t “make it up to them” by letting them do whatever they want.
Spend time with your teen, quality time. Yes they may prefer to be with their friends, but giving them your friendship is priceless. You may have to work or tend to other younger children but spending one on one time with your teen is invaluable. You cant be their friend if you do not spend time with them, like they do their friends. Ask them questions and let them ask you questions but don’t pry and don’t argue during this time. Be concerned when they stop talking to you. Make them feel like they can come to you at anytime with anything. And, no, this doesn’t mean they will let you be a Friend on Facebook.
Show your teenager encouragement and approval. Teens need encouragement to go to school, to make the right choices, to have good friends, to believe in themselves, and to face daily life. They need approval when they make decisions and they need to see you are proud of their grades, friends, choices, and that you aren’t only aware of their failures. You can show approval by being involved with their school, friends, and attending their activities.
Find someone to talk to and relate to about what you are facing with your teen. This way ideas can be exchanged and solutions may be more easily found. This is especially important if your teen is a male and you are having a hard time relating to him. You can find a group or an individual that understands your situation and can give you encouragement and sound advice. This person could also spend sometime with your teen to talk them about issues they may be facing that they don’t feel they can talk to mom about, just don’t go behind their back and break any confidentiality.
Be real, be vulnerable. Your teen may be ready to hear the truth about his father and the past. Your teen may have heard lies all their life about both parents and being able to maturely and in an unbiased way explain the circumstances can help release any anger, tension, fear, or anxiety that your teen may have been holding onto for years. Answer any questions they may have and be ready to ease any new concerns. Be real about your financial, dating, and work situations and open up about what you struggle with in life. This honest dialogue may bond you closer than ever before.
Don’t give up. Being a mother is hard and being a teenager is hard. Your teen probably feels their life is harder than yours right now. The effort you will put in is worth the cost, and your children will be far better off because you loved them enough to do what was right and best for them.