Keys for Parents and Teens*
As the mother of a gorgeous teenager I am being plunged head first into awareness of the various stages that teenagers face in this current era. My heart goes out to the many adolescents who are struggling through these stages, so I have decided to start a new category on this blog called Teen Trials. This subject has been close to my heart for a very long time as I have worked with teens previously and witnessed many degrees of fallout from this crucial phase.
First, a little background…..
I was raised in a single parent household and my mother worked long hours. This meant that my siblings and I were left to our own devices for most of the time. As you can imagine, we got up to much mischief, and thought we were adults long before we should have. As I grew into actual adulthood, I began to find large gaps in my understanding of the world, of relationships, of self-control, of self-esteem, of decisions, of faith. As a result I have made a conscious effort to be around my children as much as possible. I have tried to teach them every single thing I have learned throughout my life. I have struggled with my role as a parent right in plain sight of my children. It is not easy but I believe it is worth it.
A little understanding….
Just like the rest of us, children have their own inner enemies, forces within the flesh guiding them towards unacceptable or unhealthy behaviour. I believe it is the job of the parent to point out these behaviours and use discipline to teach their little ones the destructive consequences of allowing inner enemies unfettered influence. The trouble teenagers face in this regard, is that adolescence is the transitional period where the child must take the reigns of control over their own inner enemies, and parents must find ways to encourage them.
Obviously this is one of the most difficult phases for both teens and their parents, and different parents have different techniques for getting through it. Some are overbearingly strict, which may cause the child to remove themselves from the discipline of their parents in order to gain their own self-control. Some try to be more of a friend, feeling that they should no longer set rules or guidelines for fear of being seen as unapproachable. While other parents take a distant approach and allow the teens much more freedom than is supportive, which may cause their teens to make irrational decisions long before they are mature minded enough to understand the long term consequences.
Then there are the parents who try to aim for a healthy balance, to give enough freedom for the final decision to be their teens own, but with enough support to be able to use their parents’ wisdom as a compass.
Some important keys….
The main keys to this balance are a strongly maintained relationship, open communication, respect, intimacy, value, support and faith. It must go both ways.
Here are a few things I have learned so far about these keys….
Name calling will diminish the level of respect. Without respect the wheels of intimacy fall off.
Yelling only encourages self-imposed deafness. They will simply stop trying to hear you. (It is almost impossible not to yell in the heat of the moment, but a rational talk, after giving them an apology, will open up those lines of communication again.)
Just letting them know you are there for them during the tough times gives them much needed support.
Faith is mimicked, we can’t expect our children to demonstrate more faith than we do.
Compassionate listening without dismissing or lecturing is hard, but try anyway as it helps them tremendously.
Time together creates a relationship, the more time you spend enjoying someone’s company, the stronger a relationship you have.
The more valuable a child feels, the less they will be seduced by a world that is full of false flattery. (Do you tell your child you love them all the time? Try telling them how precious they are to you, or how much you value them, how worthy they are. It sounds different to them.)
As I continue in my journey as the Mum of a young lady becoming an adult, I will share with you in this category. I’d love to hear any tips you would care to share to help me along the way and I hope some will share future posts with their teens also.