Undying Love Or Parental Anxiety:
If you’re a parent of an adolescent, you might be familiar with the nature of conflict and communication that defines daily life.
Here’s the thing though. In our attempts to understand our teens, do what’s best for them and teach them the best way to do things, we often overlook their emotional needs.
We have love for our children. That love is theirs. We also have anxiety about our children. But, that anxiety is ours. Love is not a choice, but anxiety is. Our children only ask us for love, but we give them our anxiety too. As a result, we start inserting negative thoughts into their heads too. What if they fall down while riding their bikes, what if they get involved with the wrong crowd? etc etc. It’s important to remember that our anxieties are our responses to the choices we see them making. And the shift can happen we can understand how to respond to their behaviors and actions.
Feelings We Harbor For Our Teens:
Here are some feelings we harbor towards our teens for not listening to us. After all, we know so much more than them, right?
• They’re not grateful for the things they have.
• They’ve no idea how fancy their lives are.
• I can’t keep up with technology and his changing lifestyle.
• I wonder how they will manage their future.
• I wonder if they will turn out OK.
• Why do they keep doing stupid things and take irrational risks?
• I feel helpless and powerless.
• They don’t value us parents.
Understanding Teenage Blues:
The reality is not as simple as we think from our one sided perspective. Teenagers years are filled with melancholy that is a result of confusion stemming from their rapidly evolving personal identity. Chaos, internal turmoil, and the struggle to meet external expectations set on them are all precursors to a teen’s growth.
As parents, it is important to acknowledge that we can’t always expect teens to be merry and free from all physical pain and emotional turmoil. It helps to understand for us and our teens that all negative and positive emotions stem from our thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs towards our current conditions. The key is to not allow those sad feelings to linger. And use our fear and angst to provide enough momentum to move forward.
Analyze Your Own Internal Conflict:
In the process of trying to relate to their worries, its also helpful to sort through your own emotional baggage as parents. When their actions are not in line with your expectations, sort through your own thoughts so you understand what’s truly upsetting to you.
• What are you really upset about?
• Them not thinking of the consequences?
• Them not following instructions?
• Them doing the wrong thing?
• Them not telling you about their actions until you found out?
• What is it that you’re really hurt about?
Everyday Words And Silence Matter:
When you see them after a full day, instead of the basic “How was your day?” you can say, “Hey, I’m so glad to see you! I’ve had such a day, I can totally use your sarcastic humor!” Or simply acknowledge their presence and be ready to be OK with silence. Sometimes we don’t want to be bothered, and so do these emerging adults.
If you can sense something’s wrong, just give a hug if you can and ask questions later. If they’re in no mood for a hug, and you’re met with a door slam or a “Go away!”, be OK with that and come back later.
Remember, no blood, no foul. Unless it’s not life and death, or no one’s is bleeding, there’s really no need to rescue your child. It is their real life, and most other things, things will sort themselves out in the end.
Trust Them, Not Their Age:
Here’s the thing, teens are being themselves given their still developing brains. It really boils down to biology. So, let’s trust our teen, but maybe not so much their age. And here are some baseline assumptions we can all agree to.
• Don’t assume that your child is not interested in what you’ve to say.
• Just like how they want to be heard, they also want to hear from their loved ones.
• Whether you like it or not, talking about safe sex practices and children’s sexuality is a good idea.
• Imagine the alternative. Your children get their sex ed from the internet or peers who also learn through hearsay.
How Teens Thrive:
Having rules, expectations and boundaries to follow, makes children feel loved. If they don’t have boundaries set for them, they feel less protected and undervalued. Without rules, they begin to question if they even matter to us. Think about it, even if your child tells you they don’t like your rules, for this reason, they must be set.
Remember, when teens say no to something you propose, its to test whether you care enough to persuade them to do what you want them to do!
If you say, “Its OK, you don’t have to go”, they wonder, “Why are you listening to me? Just make me go.”
How To Discipline Teens:
When trying to disciplining children and teens, consistency is the key. Are you saying something yet don’t really mean it? Are you helping them understand the consequences of not following through with their promises?
At the same time, using guilt and shame are going to be counterproductive. Shame eats into their self-worth. While guilt might encourage them to act on their tasks in the short term, its not really an intrinsic motivator. As a result, it’s not a great long term strategy for encouraging and empowering your teen to do the right thing.
Two simple things, set your expectations early on. And stand your ground when its time for them to deliver. They will learn the quality of accountability from these expectations.
Steps To Empowering Teens:
The reality of life is that tragedy might strike at any moment. That’s the game of life. At best we can parent our children in a way they can manage their lives and themselves even when we are not around. Start by teaching them the value of their own personal power. Show them the confidence of your faith and trust in them. It helps them get back and move on after debilitating setbacks in life.
Ask them to focus on their strengths and their interests. That builds the confidence they need to stand out and strive to make a difference. Ask them what they value and let them pursue their dreams. Tell them responsibility is freedom and it doesn’t take a whole lot to ruin good reputation that takes years to build. And for a seemingly harmless infraction to become an unacceptable situation in a matter of seconds. Their words, both online and in real life matter and so do their actions too.
A Question To Ponder:
In the rat race for Ivy League college admissions, to ensure our children are successful and live upto their full potential, what are we really running after? Are we pausing long enough to wonder if we’re raising great human beings and not just mediocre professionals?
What is our own goal with parenting? Showcasing a wonder child who’s a product of our care and nurture? Or deeply connecting with a human being who’s evolving from the least powerful minority population (children) to a socially responsible young adult? Parents, its time to stop and question yourself.