Teenagers. It’s a word that most parents of young children fear. One day, their tiny pre-schooler with the chubby little starfish hands and sunshine smile is going to grow up and become a sullen, surly teenager. Or not, you could get really lucky and have a respectful, wonderfully mature teenager who never back chats. Pigs could also fly across the sky one day, it’s about the same!
Teenagers are balls of hormonal agony, trying to grow up into adulthood but caught with the ropes and boundaries of childhood. There are bound to be clashes and bound to be times where they butt against you, they’re your children and they always will. Managing those clashes and fierce times is part and parcel of raising a teenager and guiding them however you can into adulthood.
It’s important to first understand that teenagers are still children and they are still growing and learning. The fighting against your rules and your guidance isn’t aimed to hurt you as a person but it is to try and spread their wings when they often feel trapped. Teenagers are naturally self-involved; they’re caught up in their hormones and their social stresses and as they try and move into maturity, they’re going to make mistakes. Taming that wild behaviour can be very difficult for parents but if you meet their fight head on so you fight WITH them and not against them, you all win. Check out our teenage taming tips to make life easier for you:
- Set clear expectations. Teenagers may fight you on rules, but if you are clear from the outset the expectations you have of them, they can be free within those rules. Don’t wait for them to have their first hidden piercing – explain that they don’t need to hide things they want from you and as long as there is honesty you can be flexible.
- Explain consequences. As I mentioned, teenagers are naturally self-involved. You can get them involved in mission trips for teens so that they can understand that they are part of the world rather than the centre of it. Once you’ve set your expectations and boundaries, explain the consequences if they then choose to rebel. There needs not be rebellion if they have a level of freedom.
- Walk a mile. You were once a teenager and so likely remember what it’s like to be churning with conflict both internally and through peer pressure. Walk a mile in their shoes, listen to what your teenager is saying and see things from their point of view. Understand where they are coming from before you pass any kind of judgment on their behaviour.
- Be present. Just like with children, the one thing they want is you. Teenagers may love gadgets and privacy in their bedroom, but they also want you around, even if they don’t show it. Make a point of spending time together and talk to them. They need to know you’re there without smothering them.
Overall, you as a parent need to put yourself to one side and bite your lip. Set your boundaries and make your consequences known, but don’t judge their look or their behaviour unless it’s dangerous for them. Give them respect and space to grow and watch them turn to you, like a flower to the sun.