Help! I am the parent of a Teenager!
Get parents to talk about their teenage kids and all you hear is a barrage of complaints. That is exactly what happened at the start of the workshop for parents of teenagers that was held on Sunday.
“They get so angry all the time.” “They just don’t like being told what to do.” “We have to force them to come for a family get together, but the minute a friend calls, they are ready to go out.”
I’m sure all you parents of teenagers out there, can relate to this. But tell me, isn’t there anything you enjoy about your kids when they are in their teens? What is it that you love about the fact that your kid is now an adolescent?
When I asked the parents at the workshop to list down the joys of being a parent of a teenager, they looked at me as if I was crazy. But when I insisted, they started discussing this and a surprisingly long list emerged.
While undoubtedly they were worried about the fact that their children might not be able to say no to peer pressure and that they might be tempted do things they shouldn’t do, or the fact that the kids do not communicate at all, they also realised that their children are now more their friends than their children.
As your kids grow into their teens, they will challenge you to be your best. They criticise and question you so that you have no choice but to keep up with them. They are so idealistic and have great plans to improve the world. Their innocent faith that they will be able to do this is endearing.
Though they may be very moody and irritable, yet they will think nothing of enveloping you in a spontaneous bear hug of affection “just like that”.
As we spoke, we realised how important it is at this stage of our children’s lives, more than ever to be their friends, to accept them for who they are, to be there for them, yet let them walk on their own. We need to allow them to make mistakes, and teach them how to learn from those mistakes. We need to do what schools will not do : teach them how to face life, how to develop skills that will help them grow into happy adults, adults who are capable of facing problems in a proactive way, adults who are solution seekers rather than grumblers and excuse finders. Most of all, we need to teach them to love themselves, to give them the assurance that they do not need to be like anyone else. They are special to us, just the way they are.
Being a positive influence in your child’s life and getting joy out of raising children can always be an acquired skill. But a lot of us don’t think so. Or do we? What do you think?