No longer a child but not yet an adult, the teenage years are a time of transition that can be very challenging for some parents – your babies are no longer as little and they’re in a healthy pursuit of adulthood. Between discovering their independence, respecting the authority and house rules, you and your teen will have to find a middle ground. Here’s how you can handle it.
One universal problem of the teen’s rebellious stage is staying out too late, too often. Imposing a strict curfew is only going to cause more friction and the unrealistic expectation will only result in further disappointment. Instead of getting angry, encourage them to come home for a bi-weekly family dinner or a movie night together. Even if they choose not to show up go with your spouse anyway and ask your teen along again next week. If they don’t feel bad for missing out on family time, the food and activity will eventually encourage them to join in. Don’t hold back on sending a couple of selfies to the family group chat!
You might have found some success in “because I’m your mum” when they were younger, but teenagers are almost an adult and talking to them like one will garner a better response – give them the logical explanation and exercise the same amount of respect you expect from them. If you find that they are always arguing against your reasoning, acknowledge their points before giving your response.
If you’re constantly at strife over the same problems, call for a meeting. It’s crucial that you pick a time when both of you are in the right frame of mind for a discussion. Don’t set ultimatums, instead lay out the problem and listen to what your teen has to say before working on the solution. Perhaps when you call her lazy she feels less motivated to do her homework or he chooses to stay out late because home feels like a hostile place where he’ll always be yelled at.
Hold Tight, Give Space
Digging through their text messages is a cause for an argument and giving them too much freedom to explore could result in horrific consequences. How do you strike the right balance?
- Relinquish your responsibility over their appointments and test dates, give them the space to plan their own schedule – it’s all part of becoming of age! Use their quest for independence as a platform to teach them how to take charge of their own lives.
- Allow them to go out with friends and hang out late occasionally but keep a close eye on any major changes in their behavior. Many parents simply fail to acknowledge the early telltale signs: ash on their clothes, throwing up after a night with friends, always covering their wrists.
When they do something as instructed or when they behave unexpectedly pleasant, compliment them. Their cynical attitudes might mean your affirmations would be brushed off, but keep at it and they will soon see your genuineness.
If teenage angst results in criminal behaviour or violent outbursts, don’t be afraid to crack down harsher punishments or seek help from a counsellor – sometimes it takes a non-biased middle party to establish a safe space for your teen to speak out.