While we all acknowledge that parenting is never a walk in the park, the actual storm comes when your child enters his/her adolescent years. During this period, many parents find it challenging to communicate with their child. In actual fact, your child may be having a hard time connecting with you too.
Through interactions with teenagers, we noticed that many of them are concerned about similar issues and face identical problems when it comes to negotiating their position in the family. Read on to acquire a better understanding of the issues going on in a teenager’s mind, and how you, as a parent, can help your child through this inevitable phase of growth.
1. Be in the shoes of a teenager
We’ve all gone through the infamous adolescent phase, albeit no one experience is the same. However, the best way to empathize with your child is to put yourself in his/her shoes and unearth some dusty memories from your own teenage years. Remember how much you struggled with your studies and how hard you tried to fit in with your friends? Remember the ups and downs that left you feeling helpless and alone? Remember how you probably tried to let your own parents know what you’re going through but they never quite comprehended you? These are exactly what your child is experiencing right now. The first step in connecting with your teenage child is to realize that you share similar experiences as him/her, which makes you the best person to guide them through these choppy waters.
2. Empower your teenager
Now that your child has entered the adolescent stage, it’s time you loosen your grip on them and empower them with the agency to direct their own lives. Treat them like an adult, and give them the respect they deserve. Let them know that you trust them enough and do not see the need to micromanage them. However, make sure they are well-informed of all possible dangers, and convey clearly to them that they will have to bear the consequences of they own decisions. By empowering your child, you prevent the need for them to deceive you and by fostering mutual trust, your child will be encouraged to share details of their life with you.
3. Experimentations are inevitable
Teenage years are filled with many firsts. Your child may experience his/her first love, first drink, first party and first failure. While many of these firsts may heighten parents’ anxiety, accept that these experiences are inevitable and in fact, necessary for growth. There is no better time to make mistakes than the adolescent phase, because this is also the best time where you can guide them from their wrongdoings and redirect them onto the right path.
4. Let your child dream
Dreams are crucial in keeping your child focused and motivated. It’s okay if those dreams seem unrealistic in your perspective, because our world is ever-changing, and you never know when a rare opportunity may arise for your child to realize his/her dreams. Please refrain from limiting his/her dreams according to your comfort zone. If you have the ability, invest your resources to help your child pursue his/her dreams. Otherwise, words of encouragement make a huge difference too. In worse cases where you find yourself completely against his/her dreams, you do not need to offer any form of encouragement, but also keep in mind to refrain from any form of discouragement.
5. Forge stronger relationship with your teenage child
The lack of understanding for your child has the potential to strain your relationship. Always have honest and open communication with your child. Never be too quick to judge their choices, refrain from directing their conversation into your perspective, and when they are pouring their hearts out to you, never assume a superior position. Acceptance is key when it comes to loving your teenager, who is probably stuck in the phase of massive insecurities. Many parents will claim that they accept their child wholeheartedly, but their actions show otherwise. Consciously or not, parents make the toxic mistake of comparing their child to other children, which only gives your child a sense of insufficiency. Hurting your child’s feelings make them guarded against you, distancing your relationship with them. Forge strong relationships with your child by accepting them as unique individuals, love them, be patient with them, and allow room for them to explore and find themselves. Find the balance in being a support they can fall back on as well as the propeller that urges them to discover the world, the society, and most importantly, themselves.