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Raising A Teenager - Do's And Don'ts. How To Understand Each Other Better
Remember When You Were A Teenager
I know it seems like ages ago the time you were a teenager and that you remember you were always a great decision maker, and even if maybe you never used to listen to your parents at least you knew what you were doing and you were sure your choices were good. But be honest about it, were you really that great? Didn't you make mistakes and made your parents nuts? Then, why do you jump six feet high when your teenage child does the same? Just as you thought you had all the answers back then, your child thinks the same right now.
You wanted your parents to support you, trust you and understand that you know what you are doing and you are being careful, but you tend to don't give the same credit to your child. And, yet you wonder why there is a war zone every time you two meet.
Listen To Them And Give Reasons And Explanations
Your teenager comes to you with a problem and you shut it down before even listening everything they have to say. They try to explain it and yet your answer is the same, and you probably have a condescending attitude about it as well. They get nervous, start shouting, slam the door and you think: "this is why I am not letting you do that or go there because of your behavior".
But their behavior was influenced by your reaction to what they had to say. In this case, was nowhere near the child's fault. Your parents did the same to you and you swore you will never do this to your children, and there you are carrying the tradition.
My friends who have teenagers always complain that they don't listen to the parent and act out and I always ask them if they listen to what the teenager has to say. The answer usually is: "I am the parent and I know best". Well this is where the problem is. You don't always know best and you usually react this way out of fear that your children might go out and something might happen to them.
If you would just listen to what they have to say until the very end, tell them about your fears and offer them a reason to your decision they will be more likely to understand it, even if maybe it doesn't seem fair to them at the moment, once they cool down and process all this, they are more likely to come back to you and apologize for the behavior and say they do understand your position on this.
If you would listen to what your teenagers have to say and instead of going crazy when they are trying to discuss delicate subjects you would just offer your advice, they will come back another time and talk to you and ask for your advice rather than have these conversations with other friends who will probably give them the worst advice ever. Make the teenagers feel like they matter, and you will make them your friend and confident.
I am sure you would have wanted to get an explanation or a reason from your parents when they forbid you something instead of just saying "No". The same wants your children now.
Parents usually say that back when they were teenagers it was a different world. Yes, it was, but the problems your child is going through are the same as you went through, just years later and in a society with access to information and to the whole world. Don't make it seem like what they are going through right now it isn't important because this is important to them as it was for you back then.
You know these things will seem insignificant years later when you will understand what real problems really are, but they don't know this now, and they need to experience these things in order to become knowing adults later. If you don't let them have these experiences and mistakes you take away a part of the future them.
Don't Embarrass Them
When you are around other people and your child is there don't start making jokes at their expense thinking that this is funny. Also, don't tell everyone how many mistakes your teenager does and how it drives you crazy because this will only make them feel bullied by their own parents, which is far worse than any other kind of bullying.
If your children can't come to you in fear that you will make fun of them, then they feel lost, abandoned, unwanted and unloved, and this will push them to take stupid actions that will hurt both of you.
If someone else makes fun of your child, a friend or a relative of yours, defend the child in a polite manner. For example, if they say the teenager dresses funny, just say that you've picked that outfit with your child because you found it great looking and you like how it looks on your child. This will make them stop laughing and the child's confidence in you and itself will rise.
When a neighbor told my father he suspected me of doing a bad thing my father asked him if he was sure one of his children didn't do it. My father said that he knows he doesn't have angels at home, but that his children aren't exactly cut from heaven either. That made me feel so happy and confident and made me love and trust my father even more. Even if he told me in the privacy of our home to never do it again in case it was me, the fact that he defended me in front of our neighbor meant the world to me.
Praise Them When In Case
You are so used with them screwing up, or you expect this so much that when they do good things or when they achieve something instead of praising them you say this is something normal that should happen every day. This won't continue to happen if you don't tell them how proud you are of their achievements.
When you are at work and your boss tells you what a great job you've made and how proud they are of you, isn't this making you feel great and want to continue to do a great job to get more praise? The same happens with your teenagers. They want to hear these things too and they are more likely to repeat the experience when they know they will be praised and they will see the happiness on your face.
Praise them, be happy, kiss and hug them when they do a great job on anything, and look genuine when doing so. Even if your child will probably pretend like it's rejecting the hug and kiss, they will actually love it and love every second of you praising them, and they will try their best to do more great things in order to receive the same treatment again.
Children need validation. They need to know they are doing good things too that make you proud, not only always screwing things up.
Ask Another Adult To Talk To Them
When you feel like you are swimming against the stream when it comes to your child, ask someone else to have a discussion with them. Make sure it is someone they admire, maybe a cool aunt or uncle, a close friend, someone that the child feels like it gets them.
Teenagers tend to listen and apply what an outsider has to say rather than the parent even if they say exactly the same thing as the parent does. That usually happen because the outsider isn't coming hard on the teenager, but is actually fresh and willing to explain why certain things shouldn't be done, compared with the parent, which is on attack mode even before the conversation starts because they expect the worse.
A fresh person can always help, but make sure they are on the same page as you are, otherwise you might end up with an even more troubled teenager.
Nobody Is The Enemy Here
Just as you are trying to convince your child you are not the enemy and you are doing all these to protect them, you should think the same about them. They are not the enemy either. They were not sent to drive you crazy. Once you understand that everybody needs to be listen and treated as you want to be treated things will become much easier.
If you start every conversation with the idea that it will end up in a big fight this is how things will end. You don't realize this, but when you are expecting the worse you come out as trying to attack them and force them to accept your way or no way, and this attitude will set the teenager in defense mode, attacking back, and of course things will end as bad as you thought they will since you've started the discussion with tension.
Stop pretending you know what they will do if they go to that party, to the mall with friends or is any other situation. Don't be that fast to believe the worst about your teenager and not give them any kind of credit. Until you don't have a strong belief they might be on a bad road and until you don't have strong evidence to sustain your beliefs, don't treat them as criminals.
Listen, understand and give your teenager valid reasons and explanations if you want to get the same back. Just think how it used to be when you were a teenager, or how you would like to be treated now by your parents or at work by your boss. Correlate your work relationship with your boss to your relationship with your teenager and you will know how to react towards your child. I talk about this correlation because children tend to see us as bosses because we tend to act like a boss, giving orders instead of talking nice and calmly about it.
Don't be a boss, be a parent. This is what your teenager needs.