Every parent fearfully awaits the time when their offspring reaches that dangerous developmental age when instead of an obedient and adorable little tot you have an insolent creature who speaks a language you don’t understand, locks their door, and has no respect whatsoever for their parents. How can you possibly keep both the respect for your child and your own peace of mind?
You’ve survived the round-the-clock crying of the baby, the crisis of the three-year-olds, adaptation to day-care and going to school. The child has grown up and dresses, eats, and goes to school on their own. The child no longer needs constant monitoring and is quite reasonable. Then why do this age and the very word “teenager” scare the parents so badly?
THREE REASONS FOR THE PARENT-TEENAGER CONFLICTS
One of the reasons is the pressure put on by our society and the mythical image of an ideal parent. Such parents’ children must be convenient and obedient; they must have notable achievements, and fulfill all aspirations and expectations of the family. If the child is not like that, and there is only one of these ideal children in a million, the parents start panicking. They imagine that the whole world will point a finger at them and yell, “You’re a bad mother!”
If you can make a little child do whatever is convenient to the parents, it doesn’t work with teenagers. If, in horror of being repulsed by the society, you start pressuring them, the teenager resists you twice as hard.
The second reason is that present-day teenagers differ from our generation. They are more uninhibited as well as being smarter and more advanced about some things than we are. Our children navigate the quickly-changing world better; they know present-day technologies better and absorb information quicker with their fresh minds.
Adults, however, don’t realize it or maybe are afraid of admitting that children may be smarter in some things. That is why teenagers are considered not-quite-people, inadequate, almost handicapped. Parents constantly monitor them, remind them of their duties and chores, and worry about safety too much instead of handing the teenagers the responsibility that they can very well handle.
In some cultures young people of 12 or 14 already had their rites of passage and became adults. Not so long ago 16-year-olds married and lead regiments into battles. What makes you think that the present-day generation cannot put together their textbooks or clean up their own room?
The third reason is that parents forget that once they were teenagers too and also kept testing the solidity of this world that lives by rules and standards. Yet, our society with its low level of empathy is not conducive to respecting those who differ from the average.
Parents of teenagers often ask me for a magic pill that would turn their insolent offspring into a sweet angel. I have no such pill. Instead, I can make some helpful suggestions.
10 SUGGESTIONS FOR SURVIVING NEXT TO YOUR TEENAGER
1. Simply love them
Just remember that it is the same sweet baby, your own flesh and blood. Love them even when you want to throw something heavy at their head. Love them even when you yell at them. Love them when you want to hate them.
2. Don’t try to train your children; they will turn out like you anyway
It is too late to lecture when the child has grown. It is much better to work on your own growth, hone your professional skills, build your career, grow a business or learn to influence people. If you become respected by society, it may very well be that your teenager will believe that you are worthy of respect too. On the other hand, if a low-paid might-have-been mom keeps buzzing in the teenager’s ear, “I’ve given my life to you,” they’ll brush her off like a fly. In their view, she wasted her life, so none of her advice is worthwhile.
3. Learn to make cool jokes
I am serious – all your reasonable and serious explanations will smash to bits against the wall of disrespect and devaluation. The only things that have a chance of getting through are taunting and sneering at a high-class stand-up comedy level. So learn to wrap your parental wisdom in the covers of sarcasm.
4. Stop imposing last-century stereotypes
You have to realize that you cannot forecast how your teenager will earn a living or do their business in 20 years. So stop imposing 20th-century stereotypes on someone who may live in the 22nd century. In the eyes of the teenager you will be a narrow-minded, outdated nag who only deserves to be sent packing. Let the teenager learn “rubbish” you don’t understand. It is 100% certain that it will bring them more money and influence than any school subject. Leave them alone. Switch them to homeschooling if school is not working out for them, hire good tutors for them and encourage their interests instead of forcing your outdated ideas of allegedly necessary school knowledge on them.
5. Drive discreetly
Learn to coach unnoticeably. This means asking questions in such a way that the teenager comes up with their own solution and the motivation to put it into practice. If you keep giving advice and exercising authority in the good old-fashioned way, all you’ll get is protest and rejection.
6. Separate boundaries
A teenager is not a child anymore; they are adult, even if they are less experienced than you are. Respect their personal boundaries and don’t forget to guard your own, so that a smart youngster does not end up manipulating a foolish mom.
7. Acknowledge them to be a reasonable person
Do you remember how your teenager was a toddler, crawling around the house, breaking and ruining everything? Have you forgotten? You will forget these teenage years just the same if you acknowledge your child to be a reasonable adult right now. A few years will go by; they will finish studying, get a job, learn about life, and you will have a normal relationship of two adult people. This is only possible, however, if you stop pressuring them right now.
8. Don’t try to buy their love
You must provide the child with food, education, and clothing by law. You really should not buy them expensive clothes or gadgets to win their love, especially if all you hear in return is reproaches that “it’s not enough.” If your teenager wants more of your resources, they should learn appreciation and exchange.
9. Don’t be afraid to lose their love
If you adopted all the recommendations above and your teenager still does not want to behave like a human being, it means that you have successfully raised an ungrateful wretch. Stop right now. Acknowledge your failure and stop giving more than you get in return.
Don’t be afraid of losing their love, they don’t love you anyway if they behave like a parasite. Let him go to someone else, try to be adopted and see what material comforts they get there. And to avoid harboring illusions, they can visit an orphanage or a foster home and see how children are provided for there.
Remember: no youngster of any social standing was ever allowed to be rude to or sponge off their parents.
10. Let them get enough sleep
This last suggestion is physiological rather than psychological. You will get rid of 95% of your problems if the teenager gets 9-10 hours of sleep every night. However, as it is physically difficult for them to go to bed and to sleep before 11 PM, consider homeschooling, so that children could sleep in in the morning. Once the chronic lack of sleep goes away, so will the irritability and your teenager will start behaving reasonably.
There is a saying, “Parents should hold on to their children with open arms.” Imagine that your teenager is not your child, but a strange student renting a room from you. Will you treat them as you treat your child now? Will you allow them to treat you that way?