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Dealing With Teenagers: An Age-Long Parenting Struggle

Dealing with teenagers can be one of the most difficult tasks parents are faced with, especially at this age.

Teenagers are heavily influenced by several factors including music, movies, fashion, friends, and other fads that their parents may not approve of.

Parents have expectations of their children with everything from grades in school and how they dress to college and career choices.

Parental disappointment creates conflict and problems in the relationship between them and their teenagers. It often comes across as anger, giving teenagers the feeling of rejection from the people who were once the most important figures in their lives.

Dealing with teenagers as a parent
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The teenage years are also the time when kids start experimenting with risky behaviours, such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sex. Without a foundation of knowledge and understanding of expectations from the parents, the teenager is more likely to be confused when the parent expresses disapproval after the fact.

Parents need to communicate with their children and educate them before they hit the teenage years and communication lines need to remain open, or the problems would escalate.

Although arguing can be a healthy way of airing differences and working through problems, mean-spirited fighting with harsh words can leave a lasting negative impression on everyone in the family, including the teenagers.

The teenage years are fraught with conflicting feelings and thoughts as these almost-grown children head closer to adulthood. Parents are often left wondering what happened to their delightful kids who went from happy-go-lucky to moody, frustrated, conflict-ridden adolescents.

As a growing child, it is the role of your parents to nurture and guide you. This is a time when most teenagers want to spend time with their families, sharing ideas and having fun. It is normal for teenagers to be moody or uncommunicative but they still need their parents.

Having a good relationship with their parents can be challenging, but family is family, and there is always an opportunity for conflict as well as growth.

Dealing with teenagers as a parent
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Perhaps as a teenager, your parents treat you like a baby; always assuming you need assistance when you actually did not. Perhaps it is hearing constant complaints or criticism from your parents or you still feel lingering hurt about childhood issues. It takes a lot of communication to navigate through this.

You should also know that your parents are more likely to treat you like a grown-up if you act like one. Do not assume that your parents will not understand what you are going through; they have been there, you might not do things the same way as they did but they are better experienced to help you.

In bridging the gap between parents and their teenage children, parents need to get out of their zone and enter the zone of the child by doing chores together, sharing meals, taking short walks, exercising together, playing games etc. Here, the ground is prepared for the parent-child relationship to be fostered beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

In some parts of the world, Africa for instance, it is difficult to have a parent-child conversation because even parents do not make an effort to establish a common ground with their children. So, even the simplest conversation sounds strange to both parties.

Finding a common interest is paramount in achieving relationship goals as a parent. You may have concluded that your child is stubborn and does not heed to your calls, however, trying a different model through what interest both of you is key to a healthy relationship with your teenage son or daughter.

Dealing with teenagers as a parent
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Do both of you like books? Or your child is a fashionista like you? Whichever way, it affords both of you the opportunity to further discover how parent and child can put their potentials to work. They may be young but a simple idea from them can birth a business empire. These all come down to communication and communicating properly.

We are at an age where children mature quickly and are very inquisitive. They ask lots of questions; questions that trigger urgent answers; answers that require utmost care and precision.

So, as parents, try to step back when issues arise and give your teen space to be on a separate journey from you.

You have to recognise that your child is a work in progress, this helps you as the parent to maintain your balance even when their boat is rocking as they are in the process of becoming their own person, but who they are right now is not the endpoint.

So take a step back but still be as supportive and communicative as you can, just as they become the future that you envisaged.

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