As a parent, you have lived through everything. The sleepless nights when your infant wouldn’t sleep, the unbearable cluster feedings, tiny monsters rejecting solids and spitting out healthy spinach soup you just made, toddlers turning the whole house upside down and let’s not forget those never-ending tantrums. It seems easy now, doesn’t it? Because now you must face the unreasonable wrath of a fully-charged teenager.
All parents dread the moment when their child enters the irrational and troublesome age – teenhood. While most of them are usually calm and pleasant enough, you never know what is coming next. These are headstrong, crazy days. From indulging in unfamiliar activities you don’t approve of to dealing with negative peer pressure, there is a lot to handle.
Worried about your teen’s behavior and attitude? Here is our guide to surviving the teen years as parents.
1. They Are No More Your Little Munchkins
Oh, those cheeks you just wanted to gobble up, they are no longer the same. It was quite simple when they were around 7. They had their favorite colors, TV shows, movies, and best friends. Everything goes chaotic when they are teens. Perhaps, they loved the color blue and Pocahontas once upon a time and couldn’t stop taking about it but ask them now and they will hardly show any interest. Or worse, they will roll their eyes, As parents, you will have to embrace the change. Have we forgotten our own teen years? How rapidly we switched our interests and friends. During their teen years, kids are developing their identity and independence. They want parents to look beyond their grades and assignments.
One of my cousins often complained about her mom buying clothes for her. For her mom, it was a routine thing to do and she wasn’t ready to accept the fact that her daughter no longer wanted to be dressed up in unfashionably large polka dots she once adored. She was rather taken aback when we brought up the problem. And one more thing, don’t call them ‘cutie pie’ or ‘my princess’ in front of their friends. They will never hear the end of it!
2. Rebuild Trust
What happens in your home when your teen does something wrong? I am sure sullen faces, resentful glares and slamming doors are pretty common. Trust isn’t a one-way street. Both parties need to trust each other and for that, it is important to communicate openly. Set your expectations. Whenever they break the rules, instead of shouting and grounding them, talk to them strictly but calmly with an open mind. Why did they disobey? What do they expect now? Are they ready to face the music? Explain to them the benefits and cons of keeping and breaking the trust. For instance, if they are back home before their curfew, you can allow them to take the family car once a month, or you can extend their curfew on weekends. Same goes for their grades and assignments. If they are excelling at studies, you can allow them a few perks such as sleepovers and movie nights. Of course, if it is the opposite, then they should also be ready to deal with the consequences.
3. Don’t Be Snoopy
Many teenagers begin to loathe their parents when they are being overprotective and interfering. For parents, it is only a way to keep them safe and protected from the vices of the society. But going through their journals, stalking their social media accounts and phones, and tracing their messages can put anyone off! By openly communicating with them, it is easy to gain their confidence. Well, don’t expect them to tell you every detail of that party they attended last night, but take their word for it if they say there wasn’t any funny business. You can keep an eye on their activities without coming off too strong. Instill some rules and let them know that there will be consequences if they are broken. Set up parental controls on computers and keep a limit on screen time. Ensure they are around good company that keeps them grounded.
4. Show Interest in Their Hobbies
You may dislike cheer-leading and find it useless, but your girl is truly passionate about it. Have you seen her pull that difficult move and watched her encourage her teammates? You would have been proud of her! Expressing interest in their hobbies is a great way to connect with a teen. It enables them to talk to you about it. My father and I didn’t share a close bond. However, we both loved to read. At dinnertime, we often ended up having an animated discussion about a certain book. At such times, I felt a huge fondness for him that was rare. Let your teen know that you care about their passions. Brace yourself, though, they might have different interests and a brand-new hobby every other day.
5. Don’t Always Say No
Does your teen want to dye her hair purple and paint her fingernails black? Or did your boy just shock you by wearing funky clothes? Well, it is their age to experiment. If you stop them every time they want a change, it will only make them rebellious. Instead, stop wasting your energy and set strict limitations on serious issues such as alcohol, drugs and tattoos.
6. Talk the Talk Before It’s Too Late
Don’t hesitate to give them ‘the talk’. The earlier they know, the better. The hormones are raging high during puberty. Kids may feel scared and confused about what’s happening to their bodies. It is better to discuss certain things like periods and wet dreams before they have already started. If they are unaware of it and it takes them suddenly, they will panic and feel embarrassed. You don’t have to tell them everything at once. Curious questions like where babies come from and differences between girls and boys usually begin much earlier. By the time they are teens, they probably have a pretty good idea. However, get the facts straight. They must know about safe sex, precautions and difficulties ignorance can cause.
7. Trust Your Instincts
Remember, you are the parent and that sulking teen of yours is the child. Don’t forget your position. You know what is best for them and what is not. Don’t let their whines and whimpers soften you. Parenting is a challenging and demanding job and it can make you frustrated. Put your foot down when you know they have crossed the limits.
There will be crazy days when your teen will make stupid decisions and you won’t be able to do a thing. Their messy rooms and dirty wardrobes will drive you mad and you will end up cleaning after them. And one day you will be randomly doing chores when your eyes will land upon a lovable baby melting into his mother’s arms. At that moment, you will feel wistful for the bond you used to have with your kid. All you have now is a horrendous adolescent who mostly doesn’t want you around. But hey, the phase will pass, and they will return to you. Keep your calm!
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