We all make mistakes in parenting. We look at other parents and their kids and we say to ourselves: I’ll never be like that or My child will never behave that way. But when the time comes and you see your advice falling on headphone-clad ears and being met with slammed doors, your patience begins to fall apart. Naturally so, you make up excuses in your head:
“She’s just acting out. She’ll figure it out eventually.”
“He’s a teenager. It’s okay. It’s a part of growing up.”
You begin to back-off from their lives, letting them have their way, thinking they need some space. Or, some parents become too controlling, making their child resist their authority even more. A few teens even become rebellious and don’t pay much heed to opinions and advice of their parents. Home becomes a battleground for arguments, bleeding their relationship with their teen.
But if neither of those approaches are correct, then how exactly should you deal with your child?
Parenting teenagers is painstakingly confusing and frustrating indeed. If you want to live up to this challenge, here are the top two most common mistakes made by the parents of teenagers. Avoid these in order to create stronger bonds that you teen will eventually appreciate.
Don’t try to be the parents who “struggle” to look, talk, and dress like their children. Although it may seem like a good idea to relate to your teenager on their level, this “friendship” is a trade for your parental authority at home. In the playing field, your teen is equal with their buddies. But when they are with you, you are not equals.
Your child must understand that you are in charge. You can have fun and joke around all that you want, but it’s important to know where to draw the line. Your teen sometimes need you to establish the rules for them and enforce consequences whenever required.
Instead of being their buddy, taking an interest and being knowledgeable about their interests can help you build a solid foundation for communication. If your child is a football fan, knowing the basics of the game, the names of top players, and your child’s favorite team can help you score good points.
Teenage years are as confusing for them as it is for you. In the fit of frustration of failed attempts to reconcile and understand them, many times parents choose to turn a blind eye to their teen altogether. Of course, you may genuinely not know what exactly to say in order to tackle the painful silences, embarrassing questions, or the rude façade of your teen. You fear that you might make the situation worse, so you leave them alone to figure things out for themselves.
Or, maybe your teen has shut you out from their lives and refuses to share anything with you, so you just let them “be.” Persistence and perseverance may seem difficult to hold onto during such situations, but still you need to know that you should insist on communication while letting them know that you care. So, next time instead of just walking away from an uncomfortable conversation, take a deep a breath and listen to your teen intensely. That’s all they want from you, to be heard unconditionally without having to listen to any advice or judgements. So you see, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say, you mostly just need to listen.
As a parent of a teen, you might have to bite your tongue and cringe sometimes. But that’s okay because at least your teen won’t look like an alien in your house anymore, and they’ll certainly feel more assured that you’re in their court. At least most of the time.
Guest writer Brenda Lyttle is a parenting expert and a work-at-home mom of 20s something adults now. She recommends buying teen Halloween costumes for 2012 of your teen’s favorite player or character from a movie may be to show them that you care. She also suggests that you raise financially responsible teens by protecting your child against identity theft.