Being a teenager is tough these days, and being a parent of the teenager is a hard and stressful “job”.
When parents find themselves in this role, they realize that they have countless quandaries and too many obstacles hard to overcome. Why is it like this? Primarily because parents lack knowledge about the developmental phase that teenagers are going through. The most important characteristic of this phase is the need for independence, which the teenager most usually expresses through bad behaviour that parents don’t approve of.
Teenagers are driven by moodiness, strong feelings, sex drive, which usually leads to troubling and unpredictable behaviour, often coming as a shock to parents.
It is necessary to understand that teenagers have too many concerns: how to deal with school, peer pressure, and numerous temptations (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs), how to come to an agreement with parents, how to deal with the want and need to be true to themselves, how to choose their own values, how to find out what they want their life goals and future to be like. There are so many decisions weighing on a young person’s mind, influenced by wrong role models, bad examples that society gives, kitsch, trashy things, and immorality in media; all of it happening in front of anxious parents that don’t have time to listen, understand and recognize.
Here are some pieces of advice to help parents make things easier for their teenager, and at the same time for them as well:
- You have to establish clear boundaries and rules. There are rules concerning safety, health, and ethics that are not up for negotiation, and on the other hand, there are rules that you can negotiate about with your child (going out, computer, driving, and summer trips).
- You have to choose appropriately and ALWAYS BE CONSISTENT when it comes to enforcing consequences when rules are broken (no easing up on them).
- If a teenager reacts violently, do not respond in the same way; in other words, don’t lose control over your emotions. Wait for them to calm down before continuing the conversation.
- Never say bad things about their looks, do not even joke about it.
- Don’t let them lie to you. Always check/verify everything and if you catch them in a lie -punishment is mandatory.
- Don’t ignore the obvious signs showing that your teenager is drinking, smoking or using drugs.
This is a period full of temptations, and not every child is ready to always resist them. That’s why you’re supposed to be there to help them and be supportive. Help them, because even though your seventeen-year-old son looks like a grown up man, or your daughter looks like a woman, they are just fragile creatures that are not ready to engage in a fight called life, and they are still searching for their independence.
Author: Vesna Mladenović, Udruženje porodičnih edukatora Srbije
Udruženje porodičnih edukatora Srbije (Association of Family Educators in Serbia) is a professional, non-profit, nonpartisan association, successful in the field of education and advisory work.
Family life education is studying children’s development and is teaching parents about developmental characteristics and changes that a child faces while growing up. Family life educators that are working with parents have several opportunities:
- To help those who wish to adopt new methods they will use to take care of children’s needs.
- To offer them new models of behaviour and styles of communication.
- To offer them new ways to help children develop responsibility, resist temptations and develop self-respect.