Teen is an age, when a child starts developing or carving their own separate identity along with their other physical and hormonal changes. This separate identity becomes a crisis issue for those parents who takes their children as their own possession/property.
Parenting is an important task but as we call it a task, that itself defines, that parenting is only a part of life. Parents are just a medium through which a soul comes to this world. Therefore a child may come through the parents as a passage but finally s/he comes with their own destiny. But most parents forget about this and start taking a control about their child’s identity. This leads to immense stress in the teen as well as the parent. It needs to be understood by parents that in this period the main goal of a teen is to reach their goal of being Independent. Therefore most teenagers pull away from parents. This can feel like teens are always at odds with parents or do not want to be around them the way they used to. It’s appropriate for a teen to want to make their own decisions, and to think for their own self. And yet teens are still developing, and may have widely varying levels of maturity.
It can be a very stressful time for parents, especially those who do not trust their teen’s judgment. It is important for parents to understand that at this time teens would want to extend from their parents and if as a parent we inhibit it then we have all possibility of losing our child at a most vulnerable phase of their life. It is important to understand this teen period to be a phase where a teen’s job is to “extend” and a parent’s job is to “connect”. It is appropriate for kids to become increasingly independent throughout their teen years. But it’s critical, for most of those years, for parents to remain their teen’s emotional and moral compass. Teens will begin to make experiments with intimate relationships outside the family, but to do that successfully, they still rely on those intimate relationships at home remaining solid strong. It important for a parent to allow children to rely on them emotionally until they are emotionally ready to depend on their own self.
Mostly, in our culture we let teenagers transfer their dependency outside the family, with disastrous results leading to lasting impact. Teenagers are also seen to give up a great deal of themselves in pursuit of the closeness they crave, only to crash against the hard reality that other teens are not developmentally in good capacity to offer them what they need.
Some important ways by which a parent and teen relationship will make it a joyous phase rather than a period of struggle:
- A teen’s strong need to be independent, and build their own identity does not mean a parent cannot remain connected. Allowing a teen to exercise his/her own judgment and be their own self, rather than who parents want them to be, will make them grow into an age-appropriate independence without cutting the parent off. It is an important characteristic feature of adolescent phase for a teen to develop their own identity. That is the ultimate truth of life. Even if a parent feels that the child has become what they wanted him to become, it may only be that a parent has blended with the child’s destiny as a part of their good luck. Every child is born with their own destiny. If a parent on the other hand gets into a conflict then a teen will have to choose between a relationship with parents and his or her integrity. Are we raising our teen to leave their integrity?
- Listening is important for the parents. The more a parent will listen. They will teach their teen to also follow the same. The more a parent advises, however good it may be but finally a teen may be reduced to feel that they are incapable of solving their own problems and take good decisions. A parent needs to prepare a child to be capable of taking good decisions rather than raising their dependency needs. Decision making and problem solving is a skill, and can only come with practice like for E.g. Driving a car can only be learnt when one actually drives it. As a parent one can facilitate all decisions but facilitating can be possible only if we remain connected. Thus, to be connected to your child yet letting them take their own decision is vital as a part of teen parenting. A self-taken decision makes us feel more responsible. In the bargain, some decisions may not be as correct as thought of, but at such junctures belittling the teen may completely ruin their cognitive capacity to be able to take any decision. As an adult also, one can make a wrong decision, but if we completely get swallowed by our failure then we can never come up in our life. We need to teach our teens that failure is just a fall and our reflex should be to rise immediately.
- A parent needs to be available whenever a teen needs to share and talk. Many times, a teen may open up in wee hours. Teens do not keep an agenda or can bring up things only in a meeting. They may want to talk at any time. Instead of seeing this like a demand, a parent needs to see it as a “connect”. Whenever a teen is making an effort to reach the parents, parents need to be emotionally available.
- A parent needs to avoid Remarking a teen. Even if, a particular look or a particular clothing is not likeable for the parents, they need to be tactful. Speaking more than once may be taken as a rejection, which might lead the teen to become rebellious or completely under confident depending on the personality of the child.
- Let us not try to buy a teen with gifts, because, they can distinguish between emotional connection and things, and they always notice when parents use money to buy their goodwill.
Teenagers will not deny the gift, yet it will lead to a net loss to the relationship’s emotional bank account.
- It is a normal behavior of a teen to stomp out or Slam the door, or shout words like” I hate you mom/dad”. It is not required to take this personally. This is not primarily about parent themselves, it’s about the teens themselves; it is their tangled up feelings, their difficulty controlling themselves, their immature ability to understand and express their emotions. If a parent takes it personally, it will wound them, which means a parent may also land up doing what one does when one is hurt i.e. either close off, or have an anger outburst, or both. This may make the situation worse.
- A 24 hour is not what a teen seek from parents, a five minute can do wonders equally. It will be foolish to expect our teens to invite closeness or volunteer vulnerable emotions at each interaction, or when we expect it. But if a parent set up enough regular opportunities to be together, it will happen.
- By the time, a child becomes a teen, s/he goes through various experiences and they evaluate themselves in each of these mirrors of experience. It is right for a parent to demand a relationship with the teen, but a parent have to accept and understand that a teen equally is a sum total of his or her own life’s experiences. As a parent, if we find our teen getting a wrong perspective, instead of getting offensive, we need to share another perspective. This will enable the child to see the matter from another angle. Plus will also teach the child the skill of seeing different perspectives and accept the best.
- A hug can create magic. It is true for teens as well. However they may be, but a hug works magical. If a teen’s attachment needs are unmet, then they will surely turn toward their peer group for the same. Parenting is impossible when we are not an “emotionally secure base,” for our teen. To quote the attachment theorists:
“You’ll need to do some relationship repair work to get your child’s attachment focused back on you where it belongs. Don’t attempt much discipline until your relationship is on a better footing, when your teen will want to cooperate to please you”.
- The Millennial teens comes with their own major features. The teens today have a narcissistic nature. This self-centered life approach may be due to the rise of individualism in society. They are tech-savvy. They may even show signs of FOMO (Fear of Missing out) syndrome. The syndrome makes one check social media again and again and again so that they do not feel out of the loop. This happens due to continuous presence in the social media. All parents need to understand this syndrome and before helping a teen out of it, needs to realize whether they are equally sharing the syndrome. Media usage becomes a habit but, if a habit can be developed it can be restricted as well and teen best learn through modelling a parent behavior. If a fear is there, then it needs to be worked upon, finally leading to being completely pulled out. Social Media versions are cherry picked perfection and as an adult we need to make this awareness to our teens. Take every opportunity to make them understand the same, what people may show and what may be the reality. Do we need to have anxiety about such a fake world? The more parents understands this the more they will pull themselves out of this habit. Let us help our teens to grow confident in the real world by our own examples.
Remember, as a parent we are much older than our teen children. How we raise them may leave a strong impact on their future personality. Let us help our teens to carve their own identity and as parents make this process easy rather than adding difficulties for them. Let us not add on to their stress and storm, which already comes as a natural part of the biological and emotional developments of the adolescent period. Take parenting only as a part of life not an entirety. Let us not make a havoc due to our own way of thinking. Our objective as a parent needs to be creating a confident individual while keeping ourselves rejoiced in life.