Parenting adolescents is a huge challenge but with communication, teenage parenting can be made easier for you and your child. One of the hardest things in parenting adolescents is communicating in the right way, and here are some ways that teenage parenting can be made a little less stressful:
Firstly, recognize opportunities to talk. Whether you’re driving your teen somewhere or sharing the washing up, you have a chance to talk. The pressure of ‘having to have a chat’ isn’t there and you may find that it is a time your teen can open up to you. One mistake that many people make in teenage parenting is to try and talk when it suits them and not when it suits their teen. If your son is in the middle of trying to beat a high score on his latest game, or your daughter is just leaving the house, they are not going to want to talk! So pick your time, even if you have to be a little creative about creating an opportunity – parenting adolescents isn’t just about authority, it’s about creativity too!
Secondly, think about what you say. Everybody knows teenagers who answer in words of one syllable, or who grunt responses. Don’t ask them yes or no questions or they will continue to do it. Ask them open ended questions like, ‘What happened at the football match?” You may still get a “nothing” or an “I don’t know” answer but at least it increases the chances of a longer reply and a continuing conversation. Don’t try and turn the conversation round to suit your needs. Parenting adolescents is hard enough without trying to create more problems. Bombarding them with demands, instructions, or questions you want answered, when they are actually talking to you about something else will make them feel unwanted and unimportant which will make teenage parenting even more difficult for you.
Lastly, think about how you react. Show your teen the same respect you would show other people. Give your full attention to the conversation, don’t try and multi-task and don’t veer off into talking about your day if they seem bored listening to it. You will probably be tempted to try and impose your views onto your teen at some time, but give your child space and support to formulate their own ideas about the world – they will become a much stronger person for doing so. Parenting adolescents can be very hard when they do rebel against the ‘family ideals’ and it is likely to happen to some extent at some point. However, if you do hear something you don’t like, don’t jump to conclusions and assume the worst. Take a deep breath and say you will talk about it later if you feel you are going to react in an angry way. Teenage parenting is stressful enough, without knee-jerk reactions making things worse.
It is difficult to remember that our parents had the same problems parenting adolescents as we do today, but they did. If you manage to communicate with your teenager you are doing really well. Try and think about ways you can talk to your teenager – are there activities you can do together? Think about what you say to them – try and see things through their eyes. Think about how you react – keep calm. Bear these three things in mind and teenage parenting may just get a little less fraught.