Having a teenager can be one of the most frustrating aspects of parenting but what are parents to do? We can’t keep them from growing up so that means we have to better our skills. As teenagers, kids start to think (and act) like they know it all but our job as parents is to constantly teach them. If you’re a parent of a teenager, brace yourself because you’re in for one wild ride, and heed the advice in this article to have a happier relationship.
Change your mindset. While your children will always be your babies, they’re not children (in that sense) anymore. They’re growing up and, as parents, we have to recognize that and keep up. Your teen is maturing and becoming independent. Relax, this is exactly what you want them to do. Realize that your baby isn’t a baby anymore and adjust your parenting accordingly.
Actively listen. This can be difficult, especially if you have more than one child, but it’s very important to actively listen to your teen. Active listening is giving your teen your undivided attention, not thinking about what you’re going to say next, and certainly not interrupting them. You want your teen to be open with you and the best way to have that is to have open communication.
Set a date. Just because your child is a teenager now doesn’t mean they don’t need quality time with you. It can be a movie, a sporting event, the mall, anything that lets them know you want to spend time with them. Even if they don’t appear to want to spend time with you, keep the date.
Address the situation and move on. Teens tend to get into trouble….a lot. Whether it’s an attitude, sassy comments, disrespect, or something else, it’s important to address issue in an appropriate manner and move on. Don’t engage in heated arguments with your teen about the mistake that was made. (Easier said then done, I know.) However, this just fuels the fire. You can set boundaries in a strong, love and assertive way and then let it go.
Be a parent. It’s very easy to get sucked into being your child’s friend but you must be a parent first. Put boundaries and rules in place and hold firm to them. Even though you’re the parent of a teen, you’re still teaching them to make wise decisions. The truth is teens need a strong rock and this is what they want through this time that is filled with great uncertainty for them.
Congratulations on being the parent of a teen! Have faith in your ability as a parent and know that you’re doing your best. Try to remember what it was like to be that age and how you wanted your parents to act or treat you. You’re doing a fantastic job…even if you don’t think so!
Live Mentally Healthy,
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill