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Teens That Listen, Care, and Share - Not Just a Dream
Raising our Teenagers
My daughter is always amazed at how much her friends like to talk to me. Really talk, about important things in their life. I believe one of the reasons why they feel comfortable with me is because I treat them like real people. I don't talk to them as if I am all knowing and they are clueless. I ask questions and listen without judgement. It seems so preachy when I put this down in writing, but that's the best I can explain it.
I have always believed that children have rights too. I didn't grow up that way, and that's why I realized it was important. The old saying that children should be seen and not heard was often repeated in my parent's house. I was also gifted with the ability to speak with children on their level no matter what the age. I say gifted because I see so many adults without that ability.
Back to the subject of children's rights. I believe that children should have most of the rights that we as adults expect for ourselves. NO, they should not be able to make the financial decisions for the household. I am not saying they are making decisions like an adult or capable of adult actions. But if they are tired, afraid, lonely, cold, curious, giggly, or sad, they should have the right to feel that way express themselves or their need. Their needs should not be considered less important than an adults.
Many times we, as adults. see our own problems as more important than those of our children. If they come to us with a problem, it may see trivial, but to them it can be very daunting. It could be that someone made fun of their clothing, or hair style. Their world is defined by these things when they are surrounded by their peers. Or they may be just curious about something when we are busy, and we could put them off. Maybe they say they have to have the latest style of sneaker, we just see it as an expense. We need to put ourselves in their world and realize what pressures they are facing.
Perhaps we are at a social function and they complain they are bored. I am not saying you drop your own need for socializing and leave immediately. It is more about how you discuss the situation. Do you simply tell the child to find something to do and just "deal with it?" If it was another adult dependent on you for transportation how would you handle it? We can take the time for them by DISCUSSING the matter. Explain that you understand it can be boring for them, but that you have needs too. This is important to you, and you will keep them in mind as you consider how long you will be staying. Have a conversation and discuss the options. You may stay just as long as you have planned, but they feel they have been heard and their needs are important.
You may just be imagining what it will be like when your children become teens, but respect and openess need to begin early. If the trust and lines of communication aren't established before the teen years, then it will that much harder to establish when they are working toward independence. Learn to listen without yelling, and practice seeing them as a person, not just your son or daughter. What motivates each child will be different, and a parent needs to respect that. Children may hear your words, but they definately learn from your actions and expressions. If you tell them to be honest and open with you, but they see you hiding things from them or your significant other, that is the lesson they will learn.
If your teen comes to you and tells you that they were shoplifting with their friends, what will you do? Will you start yelling and screaming? Will they be grounded and punished for a long time? What would help the child to learn NOT to be involved in bad activities or be influenced by peer pressure?
I'll be adding my thoughts on the method I feel is most effective. Let me know what you think.