The parent-child relationship is at its most challenging when your child inhabits that wildly unpredictable phase that is often termed as ‘adolescence’ or ‘the teenage years’. Parents and teens go through a lot of ups and downs and encountering frustrated teenagers and equally frustrated parents is not an uncommon sight. Many parents feel as if they are dealing with complete strangers when interacting with their teens and they are at a loss as to the best way of connecting meaningfully with their teenage child. This becomes all the more difficult when parents are routinely subjected to the slamming of doors on their faces, disrespectful and cheeky back-talk and a judgmental attitude on the part of their kids.
If you are a parent who identifies with these parent and teen situations, the best way to react is to be objective and look within yourself first. In the first place, is some particular trait in you triggering a violent response from your child? Do you truly empathize with the problems of your child? Do you even know what problems your child encounters on a daily basis or are you relatively alienated from the life that your child leads? If you are ignorant of your child’s daily activities, have you made any serious effort to rectify the situation or have you just shrugged it off and decided to think about it later?
When answering these questions, honesty is essential. By being truthful, you might find the solutions to these problems within yourself and won’t need to take any professional help to reach a state of understanding and mutual respect with your teenage child. Parents need to realize that during the adolescent years, the teenage child is grappling with the world her or she lives in. She is neither completely an adult nor is she a child and a perfect balance is very difficult to attain. This is an age when the child has to deal with so many different issues and that too, on her own. Some amount of anger and rebellion in the parent-teen equation is only natural and should not surprise or disappoint you as a parent. There are certain things that you can do, however, that will lessen the trauma and create a better rapport with your teen.
First on this list is being a good listener. How many times do we get angry when others do not listen to us? Why, then, do we become inattentive when our child is narrating something that is apparently important to him/her? Is it because we think that we can get away with it or is it because we consider their issues too trivial for serious consideration? What you as a parent need to realize about your children is that their life and their problems are very overwhelming to them. Adult or not, you need to accord them the dignity of being a rational human being and treat them in a respectful manner. There are lots of parents who have unimaginably busy schedules which make it difficult for them to talk to their teenage children daily and find out what is going on in their lives. For such parents, delegating quality talk-time on weekends to their children will go a long way in establishing a great parent and teen sensibility.
The next thing that you need to remember is not to be emotionally affected when your teen hurls a scathing comment at you. If you react in a similar manner and become abusive, you will lose the trust of your child forever. This does not mean that you become a punching bag and take whatever comes your way. You just need to be firm and cool when your child is being particularly insulting and state that such behavior will not be tolerated in your vocabulary of the parent-teen relationship. As for your personal feelings, you need to understand that what makes your children so audacious is their certainty of your support, no matter what they say.
There are a large majority of parents who do not make their kids feel secure. They are over-critical and judgmental about their children. This can lead to terrible consequences with the teenage child. Not only is there a serious possibility of your teenage child being rebellious and moody, he may start rejecting every idea that you put forth. Teenage children need large doses of encouragement and approval from their parents for their personal growth and you need to be aware of this when interacting with them.
You also need to introspect and analyze your ways of expressing your anger or frustration. Do you lose control and give vent to excessive language or gestures when you are angry or hurt? Perhaps your teenager has observed these traits in you and unconsciously internalized them. If this is the case, then it is time to acknowledge the fact and try to bring about a change in yourself before you try and correct your susceptible teenager. This can also be a wonderful method to establish great comfort levels in the parent and teen relationship.
However, you also need to understand that certain situations rightly provoke anger in your teenage child. Rather than indulging in the blame game at this juncture, you should talk to your child and discuss the other alternatives that could have helped to cope with the situation better. This kind of discussion will help your child probe the choices that were available to him or her and deal with similar situations in a more matured manner. It will also help to cement the parent-teen tie and cause your child to look upon you as a benign guide who is always ready to stand by him or her.
Another sensible move on your part would be to assign your teenager with responsibilities and give them more control over their lives. Having the power to take personal decisions is extremely valuable to the teenage child and most of them will use it wisely since they do not want their parents to be disappointed in them. Of course, if you have serious reason to mistrust your child, this is a step that you have to re-consider. In most cases, though, the teenage child will appreciate your treatment and trust and behave in a manner that will make you proud as a parent.
These are some small steps that can transform the relationship between parents and teens into something that is incredibly precious and beautiful. What you ultimately need to remember is that thoughtful parenting during the teenage years will go a long way in developing great adults who will always look upon parents as their friends.