Being a parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. No matter how many books you read or how much you do to prepare for having a child and being a parent, nothing can quite prepare you enough for the real deal. Every child is unique and has different needs, and every child goes through different stages in their lives that require different styles of communication and parenting. One of the stages found by many parents to be a more difficult time is adolescence.
When your kids are younger, you are helping them do most things. They need help eating, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, getting to school, doing their homework, the list goes on. However, as your kids begin to grow up, they gain more independence and not only want to do more things on their own- but are now able to. For many parents, this can feel weird and scary. “But they need my help!” parents say, “They can’t do it alone!” Learning how to navigate these unchartered waters as a parent can be a challenging time.
As an adolescent, kids are able to think for themselves and may have opinions that begin to differ from your own. They make decisions that are bothersome to you, or that you may disagree with. This is a common experience of parents with adolescents. No parent enjoys fighting or arguing with their child, but it happens often and is inevitable at times. The question then becomes- how can I effectively communicate with my children about the things we aren’t agreeing about in an effective way? As an adolescent, it can be hard to recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around you, or that things don’t always go as planned. Beginning to realize this may not be pleasant for your child. Instead of getting angry or trying to teach them a lesson, it can be helpful to use these moments of frustration as an opportunity to let your child know that you’re there for them.
You can always extend the olive branch, even though it may not be reached for immediately. Teens may not want to talk about everything all of the time- and that’s okay! Think about yourself as a young teen and all the things you didn’t want to talk to your parents about. Your child may be the same. However, reminding them that when and if they do want to talk, that you are there for them, can go very far. Your child is going to make mistakes and not get it all right one hundred percent of the time. Your “parent alarm” does not have to go off at every wrong turn. Use these moments to communicate openly and honestly with your teen. It is important not to shame them in these instances, but instead continue to let them know that they are loved despite their mistakes. As human beings that is what we all crave- to be loved despite the things that we don’t always do right. Your adolescent is no different.