Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parenting a Teenager

How many times have you seen the eyes roll and heard the deep grunting sigh when speaking to a teenager? It is a communication tool they use to let others know that they are feeling tread upon and unwelcoming the discussion. Teenagers are their own species, and are best studied by far as not to get to close as one would a lion in the jungle. A teenager can be a lot of fun if we approach them in a way that does not threaten their individualism. They can also be a lot of stress when we want to reach out to them and they have closed the door on us.

Patience is the key to successfully navigating the teenage years. Finding creativity in parenting to allow the teen to be who they want to be as well as guiding them in the right direction. Hopefully, without them realizing that we are guiding them at all. Teenagers want to be thought of as adults that know everything they need to know in the world, and they do not like their knowledge challenged. However, of all the age groups in adolescence the teenager is the one that needs the most guidance. Today's world is complicated and riddled with messages that can confuse a teenager trying to find their way. Parenting requires a lot of patience and some homework as well. Keeping up to date on the current fads, lingo and what music is hot is a good way to stay in touch with a teenager. Of course, we cannot go about it in a way that makes us “lame” as a parent talking about such things as if we understand it. Knowing who our teenagers are spending their time with is very important. More and more there are unsupervised children practically raising themselves and these kids are the ones that seem cool and fun to teenagers. Monitoring a teenagers emotions is important with parenting. There are a lot of kids that are slipping through the cracks, dealing with depression and apprehension in their lives. Keeping an even balance in a teenagers life is a good way of allowing individual assertion as well as activities that challenge their minds and allows social interaction. Extracurricular activities are best to keep a balance in their lives. Sports, Drama, clubs and or a part time job will allow a teenager to find independence and responsibility.

Being determined and consistent in parenting will get both the parent and the teenager through the maze of those hardest years and bring forth a well rounded young adult. The key to making it through is a sense of humor and looking back into our past and remembering what it was like to be a teenager ourselves. Sometimes as we grow older we tend to forget the emotions and angst that we felt at that age. Tapping into our past helps us to be better parents to our kids. Finding it in ourselves to relate on a level that allows open communication and growth keeps the door open with our young forming adults.

The entire process from small loving child to happy young adult is trying and a lot of hard work. It makes us remember the sleepless nights of infancy and the constant chasing of toddlers as times that we cherish and although sleepless nights and constant chasing down of teenagers is not much different in our own exhaustion; the way in how we handle it makes all the difference in the world. We do not have to be their friends, but we should be friendly. We do not have to allow their every whim, but allowing expression and discussion teaches communication. We do not have to accept their answers or excuses but listening and keeping an open mind to their reasoning teaches them that they are not being shut out. A teenager needs validation and acceptance not only from their peers but from the adults in their life as well.

Take time to put aside the impending doom you feel when your teenager rolls their eyes and sighs loudly at your words. Keep in mind that the time goes by so quickly, that before we know it they are off into the world following their dreams and aspirations. How we help guide them through this tumultuous time in their lives is the precursor to how they make that first step into adulthood.

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