When your child is young, you are the best thing on earth. You’re all wise, all knowing, the giver of good things and your kisses cure everything. Then you blink, and your child becomes a teen. You know nothing, you’re always wrong, and “It’s just not fair!” What happened? How on earth do you relate to this person that seems to have taken over the body of your adoring child? Knowing why your child has changed can help you relate to him, and make sure you’re still close when the teen years are done.
The teen years are tough ones. Your child is beginning to feel his independence and is trying to find his place in the world. Also, his hormones are all over the place.
The first thing to note is that moodiness, and even rudeness is typical for this age period. Not that you should ignore them if they seem extreme to you, but some of it is a natural outcome of your teen’s attempt to know his own mind and some is an attempt to push his boundaries. Remember this and deal with it appropriately, but know that it’s normal.
Here are a few tips to help you cope with and relate to your teen.
First, listen. Really listen. That doesn’t mean hear. Pay attention to what your teen is telling you, and try to be open-minded. You need to hear what’s going through your child’s mind and what he’s feeling, even if you don’t necessarily like the subject or don’t agree with it. It’s easier to come up with a solution to a problem or some common ground when you know where your teen is coming from. Also, it will help keep the lines of communication open if your teen feels that you are really listening to him.
Communication is essential. Let your teen know that he can always talk to you. And when you are talking, try not to be critical or judgemental. Try to communicate in a way that makes your stance on a subject clear, but doesn’t shut his out. It may not be easy, but Try to stay calm and rational. It will help keep communication going if at least one of you can keep the emotions in check. And if you don’t automatically react with anger or stress, your teen is more likely to come to you when things get difficult.
Always let your teen know that he is loved. Whatever happens, however rough things get, and you will love him. Even if you don’t necessarily like the way he is acting, that love is a constant.
Be loving, but do remember that you are the parent, not a friend. This means that you need to set rules and boundaries and stick to them. That way you both know where you’re coming from, and you don’t have to renegotiate rules or consequences every time a situation comes up. Keeping firm rules as to what is and is not allowed in your house will give the teen a firm set of guidelines within which to work. Not that the boundaries won’t be pushed, that’s par for the course, but having a good idea of the rules at the outset makes it easier to deal with issues that come up.
If you need someone to talk to, find another mom around you that’s got a teen, or has had one. Talking to someone who’s been there and done that is always helpful.
The teen years are difficult for both parent and teen. But these struggles are not only normal, but an essential part of the growing process. You can help your teen get through it by keeping in mind why these things are happening. Be there for your teen as someone to talk to and someone who will listen. Be a loving, firm parent. You will get through this. And, in time, your teen will come to see that you are really not always wrong. It may not always be easy, but these things will help you survive the teen years with your relationship with your child intact.