Parenting Teenagers: Some Thoughtful Advice

FamilyParenting

  • Author Ian Macpherson
  • Published September 22, 2008
  • Word count 522

The much-anticipated teenage years! Not since the approach of potty-training has any stage of development caused more sleepless nights than adolescence. What do you say about sex? Religion? Cars? Jobs? Drugs? What about friends? What about College?

And what is THAT my teen is wearing, reading, listening to?

Perhaps much of our parental anxiety stems from our own memories of the teen years. For most of us, there are more than a few emotional, physical and mental scars from that very turbulent time. It is understandable that we worry about what challenges our own children will face in a world that seems a little harder and more chaotic.

So, what is the best approach or the best ‘philosophy’ to take when it comes time to deal parenting your teenager?

First, recognize that your teen is just as scared as you are, though he or she may not show it. Value that fear for the real emotion that it is. They have good reason to be afraid as never-before-experienced thoughts and feelings spring up along with their surging hormones.

Second, realize that your teenager has a growing awareness of the approaching complexities and responsibilities of adult life. This includes everything from their place in the economic cycle to the state of world peace or the environment. Try to encourage and guide this awareness in a healthy way as your teenager tries to answer the age questions of "Who am I and where do I fit in?"

Know, too, that the process might be frustrating at times. You’ll find yourself struggling to find a way to explain and defend your beliefs in ways you haven’t before. Do it anyway. Your teen will appreciate your ability to talk to them and listen to them about their opinions on important issues. You both might learn something from each other!

Give your adolescent the tools they need to function in the real world. Teach financial responsibility. Model a good work ethic.

Many teens leave high school and even college feeling drastically unprepared for the real world. They need to learn everything from how to do laundry to how to cook a meal. They need to learn how to unclog a toilet, change a tire and balance a checkbook.

Give them freedoms, but enforce your boundaries. No matter how ‘big and grown up’ your teenager feels (or seems to you), he or she needs to know that you’re there as a stable and authoritative source of love, advice and support.

Your teen will go a different direction than you wish. It is inevitable at some point that your teen will choose differently than you in relationships, career, lifestyle, politics, etc. They’ll vary from whatever hopes and dreams you have held for them. Grieve for that loss, but realize it was just a dream.

Your teenager is not an extension of you, but a unique individual in her or her own right. This may be one of the hardest lessons to learn, but it really is the ultimate lesson when parenting a teenager. You have to ‘be there’ and ‘let go’ at the same time.

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