Parenting those Teenagers

A familiar expression.
A familiar expression.

Parenting those Teenagers

By Tony DeLorger © 2011


Incumbent upon me is the mission to impart my life experiences to my children, an attempt to somehow lighten their load and to remove some of the pitfalls that I have found in life. The problem remains the knowledge of something and the experience to acquire that knowledge are too different things

As a parent we want the best for our children and most of us are prepared to do just about anything to that end. But sometimes trying to give advice to your kids, particularly in those dark teenage years, is like bashing you head against a brick wall; and it doesn’t stop hurting when you stop. The advice comes back at you with words of dismissal.

‘I’m just trying to help,’ you say, not understanding the response to your pearl of wisdom. Let’s face it; no matter how adept we are at gaining the understandings of life’s mysteries, our kids see it as both interference and being the relics that we are, irrelevant.

Oh how pathetic we feel, worthless and inappropriate in our dotage. But for parents bridging that generation gap between us and our teenagers is not easy and indeed futile in trying to discount it. The reality is kids need to develop independence, need to vent their misgivings, their doubts and fears through establishing self-reliance and confidence. This often appears as rebellion, but it’s them trying to find their feet. It’s normal.

The best way to teach your teenagers anything is by example, it’s that simple. Wanting to be grown up and be independent is expected and the best way for us to assistant in this process is in the most subtle way. It’s like trying to speak to someone who speaks a foreign language that you don’t speak. Communication is achieved with patience and by slow and rudimentary actions and gestures. Kids want your input, they just don’t want to be seen to be receiving it; it’s a ‘saving face’ thing; they’re independent and don’t need anyone.

There are times when a sit down discussion is necessary, and there are times when your teenagers will want it. Boundaries need to be set up; this is how they learn. No matter how they kick and squirm, these boundaries are what give them confidence in the world, give them the perspective to be a part of an ever-expanding life. This is the foundation of what should and shouldn’t be done, the routines that enable successful participation in their lives and by your example the rights and wrongs of a moral base.

Children need to be heard, to be able to voice their opinions. They need to be loved and nurtured and given values through discipline and by example. They need to feel worthy of their place in the world, to develop confidence and to be able to relate to other people, with empathy and compassion. And most importantly they need to feel part of a family, an integral and important part of a functional group of people who love and care for one another. This then translates into feeling part of society and the responsibilities that entails.

When someone said that being a parent was the most difficult job in the world, they weren’t kidding. Parenthood, beyond any other pursuit in life, is the most arduous and rewarding pursuit you will ever undertake. We bring a child into the world and it is our job to ensure that they grow up to be happy functioning adults, contributing to society and able to form lasting relationships with people.

I’ve had five kids and I don’t claim to be anything other that a normal everyday parent. I have made many mistakes and I unfortunately continue to do so, but I have learned that what we see outwardly is not always the case with our children. Particularly in those wonderful teenage years, kids can be a handful, particularly with all the pressures of our modern society. Pressures like competition for placement in education, employment, peer pressure with alcohol and drugs and generally a highly stressed out world of conflict and violence can overwhelm anyone. This is why depression has become such an issue with teenagers. It’s scary out there.

In conclusion, the difficulty in raising kids is far outweighed by the joy and reward of raising happy and successful people. Watching them go through life, get married and have their own kids makes all the minor frustrations of the teenage years just dissipate into insignificance. None of us are perfect, and all we can do is our best. In the end it is love that makes all the difference, and no matter what the problems they can be overcome with love and patience. It’s all worth it.


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