Surviving the teen years is not something new parents think about when they are holding their newborn baby. They eventually learn that surviving the sleepless nights of a baby cutting teeth is nothing compared to surviving a night with an upset teenager. Parents who thought they would never survive the “terrible two’s” find themselves wishing for those days once that child hits puberty. Rarely there will be a family blessed with an easy transition from childhood to young adulthood and those parents should thank their lucky stars.
Unlike any other age transition, a teenager has hormonal forces at work along with normal emotional and psychological development. The addition of hormones during a developmental stage can wreak havoc with the child and their family. The child who was once happy and care free suddenly has doubts about himself and the world around him. Many children do not understand what is happening to them emotionally and will try to hide their feelings. Some teenagers will try to distance themselves from their family. Parents should find ways to keep the lines of communication open regardless of how difficult.
Children who are transitioning into their teenage years need more support and guidance than a toddler transitioning into pre-school. Talking to your child before they enter this lengthy transition will be of some help. Explaining what is happening to them physically will provide a good foundation for future talks regarding their newly developed emotions.
Teenagers are no longer children needing supervision around the clock. They are changing and growing into adults. Allowing them to make more decisions in regard to their clothing, friends, and activities provides them with a sense of self. As parents we want our children to blossom however it is important to remember that each child is different.
An 8-year-old who excitedly played baseball may at age 13 decide he really wants to paint instead. The little tomboy may suddenly develop a taste for nail polish and designer clothes. All of these behaviors are normal where a teenager is concerned. Keeping track of your teens’ choices and offering suggestions and occasionally saying “no” helps them learn to have self control.
A teenager will press the limits set by parents. They will push the window of curfews and budgets. They will read and see things that they think are very stylish and want to try them on for size. Occasionally parents will think that someone stole their child and replaced it with some alien species.
If you find yourself in this type of a situation remember that you were also a teenager once. How did you feel? Did your parents help you or did they push you even farther away? Every generation learns from the one that precedes it. Some of the methods used by our parents no longer work in this day and age.
Children do not come with instruction manuals. As parents we can ask our parents how they managed when we were teenagers. We can read and study and ask the experts. The best advice is to know that becoming a teenager is a scary and sometimes lonely experience. The best thing you can do is to be there for your child.
It is important to try to support their decisions, to guide them and understand that even if they say that you are the world’s worst parent you really are not. Once the hormones stabilize hopefully your teenager will become an important part of your family. A responsible, well-adjusted teenager can accept many of the responsibilities that adults usually take care of.
While the transition is difficult for both parent and child, the end result is well worth the extra time, energy and effort put in to surviving the teen years. It is entirely possible that your patience and understanding will result in an adult child who will eventually become your best friend.