Fortunately, “this too, shall pass”!
Adults who work and live with adolescents all agree that the warm loving care that is provided to very young children remains necessary, but is nowhere near enough when the child reaches adolescence.
Parents must do much more to support their children through the teen years if they want their children to grow into self-responsible, independent, resilient, happy, self-respecting adults.
Skills required in Parenting Teens
Parents, therefore, need to develop skills:
- in really listening without interrupting and judging;
- in expressing concern, while being open and honest about their own and their child’s concerns, without blame or attack;
- in presenting a tolerance for difference;
- as well as developing the courage to trust.
When a child is very young, parents make most of the decisions about their child’s life – when and what to eat, when to go to bed, when to play and with whom, what time to be home, what to wear … generally speaking, parents get their own way.
Once a child reaches adolescence, however, ongoing conflict and explosive outbursts by parents and adolescents alike are the predicted outcomes for parents who hang onto their old way of parenting.
It is crucial for parents to provide plenty of opportunities for their teenagers to make truly independent choices and decisions.
Like any skill, this capacity to make independent and well thought out decisions does not occur overnight. No one can change from being a dependent little child to a responsible young adult without loads of practice and experience in making decisions and knowing what self responsibility really feels like.
Furthermore, parents are often reluctant to relinquish their control and allow their teen to make the required major shift in responsibility. Such a change is challenging for parents who often feel like they have been demoted.
While it’s true that parents do relinquish control as their child’s psychological development warrants, nevertheless they are still needed – but to play a different, though equally vital, role in the life of their teens: as advisers and consultants.
Advisers & Consultants
In this new role of adviser and consultant, parents support their adolescent in making personal decisions, by still providing some structure, consistency and boundaries that are clearly communicated, clearly negotiated and clearly understood.
It is also important for parents to include the consequences for exceeding the limits – but without threats or warnings. Teenagers most certainly need parental support and love but without the fireworks, judgment and domination. Everyone needs significant others in their lives who care about them, and adolescents are no exception.
Consequently, parenting teenagers involves more than passively allowing them to become independent. It includes actively fostering, encouraging, discussing and rewarding them for their little independent personal decisions in their early teenage years, continuing the process until they reach and maintain self-responsibility and independence as young adults.
Nothing substitutes for first-hand experience, and supportive parents need to understand they are not helping their child grow into mature, well-adjusted and resilient adults by over-protecting them, over-parenting or rewarding dependent and obedient behaviour.
Support for Surviving your Teen
Most parents find raising their teenagers somewhat of a challenge in this day and age. It is a time of great changes for parent and child alike. But … support is at hand. There are many strategies and techniques parents can implement to help them in the process of supporting their kids through to adulthood, and in a way that builds a strong healthy relationship with them.
If you would like some help or support to survive your teen, as you strive to build a respectful and loving relationship with them, please make an appointment to see me and I will look forward to chatting with you. Raising a teenager can be a truly exciting time for you!
Dr Jan has many years of experience in helping parents to survive the teen years. She enjoys working with people from all walks of life and helping them to be the best they can be and find success: improved well being, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows the individual to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
To make an appointment with psychologist and hypnotherapist Dr Jan Philamon, try online booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.