Being a parent is fine, but being a parent to a teen is quite a challenge. Most parents would agree that it is exhausting, nerve-wracking, and agonizing to parent a teen. Unlike the previous years of sleepless nights, temper tantrums, and baby tasks, teen years come with new challenges to navigate. The hardest thing being a teen parent was to juggle between work and caring for the teen in all aspects.
Anxiety and depression
Most teens feel the pressure of working hard and getting good grades. Coupled with the peer pressure of looking good and fitting socially in groups, the teen develops depression. A new environment, new social groups, and new changes make the teen overly excited and want to explore more. The anxiety and depression stretch to the family at home, as the teen wants to belong.
Protecting them from child abuse
Pre-teen and teen stage is when children are schooled and are far away from their parents most of the time. You are not always there to watch their moves and social interactions. Whenever the child comes home with a complaint of abuse, it is devastating for a parent. You tend to blame yourself for your absence to protect the child from harm; however, it is a situation you could not avoid. Teaching your child how to overcome such insecurities and deal with them is best.
Handling their anger and aggression
The teen doesn’t know how to control emotions. Your child, lacking resources to handle frustrations, starts to wrestle with emotional issues. Teens don’t entertain anyone’s interference. They find it normal to argue with adults, argue or their parents. They do what they feel like doing. Fights and arguments become common among the siblings. It could be attributed to the movies they watch. Such films are filled with anger, aggression, and violence. If they are not well guided, they become out of control. Putting in a lot of effort to sober up such a teen is overwhelming.
Handling communication gadgets
With the advent of technology, it has become a norm for a child to handle and even play games on mobile phones, iPods, laptops, and other digital gadgets. While it is a positive way to learn in a digital world, it is also an addiction that negatively impacts teens. These gadgets pose health issues such as eyesight problems and backaches. They also close the teens to social groups while opening them to total strangers who take advantage of their naivety. Most teens spend their time in-house handling digital devices, unlike the traditional way of going out to play with others. Parents have to force kids out for physical play and interact with others and their natural environment.
Talking about sex and sexuality
Sex and sexuality are topics avoided by many parents. It becomes difficult mentioning anything related to sex and sexuality. It is the prerogative role of parents to teach their teens about sex. Having them learn from secondary sources leads to picking up undesirable sexual behaviors. They feel uncomfortable talking about it to their children.
Every child needs to grow up into a sexually responsible individual. They should know their sexual lives and sexual orientation and discern the positives and negatives of sexuality. Developing sexually acceptable behaviors in society will make them socially acceptable.
The judgmental attitude of a teen can give one grief. As a parent handling a child who has been abused, bullied, or rejected by peers is overwhelming. The teenager becomes insolent and refuses even to do house chores. They become defiant and sulky. However, it is also good to let them feel that way, as it will make them grow into competent adults who can solve their problems. You, the adult, can fine-tune your attitude to resonate with theirs.
Reacting to divorce or separation
If there is a difficult moment in a parent’s life, it is divorce time. When parents are forced into a divorce scenario, kids are left in the balance. Their reaction is never good for the taking irrespective of who will be their custodian. As a parent, it becomes difficult to let go and even explain to them the unfolding events.
Discipline that backfires from time to time
Rebellious behavior is realized, and the teen will want to argue with you even on trivial issues. Often you find yourself shouting back at them. It becomes difficult for your emotions to resonate with the teen’s emotions.
Alcohol and substance abuse
When the teen is exposed to early substance abuse, it becomes an uncontrollable behavior. Parents spend most of the time away from them, and the avenues through which they access this substance are varied. It is difficult as a parent to have control over it. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to irresponsible risky behavior, depression, and chronic diseases.
It is not time to freak out. Redeem your parenting self and be ready to make things right.
Have talks before they start schooling. Talk about money, hygiene, privileges, creativity, technology, friendship, impulsivity, and sexuality. Talk to them that schooling is an opportunity to open up ways for a better future. It is not a place for peer influence and regrouping for unwanted behaviors.
Review your parenting strategies:
Try focusing on the positives.
Employ permissive parenting where authoritative parenting fails; be very loving with a few guidelines and rules.
Do not have a limited repertoire of strategies to guide and monitor your teen’s behavior.
Constantly remind them that you are in control and everything will work out in their favor.
- Accepting the teen’s independence and supporting them in making decisions:
When the teen has freedom, it helps build self-esteem and convince them they are in control. The independence guides them to face adversities bravely. Assure them that you will assist in solving any arising problem. Give an ear and positive criticism where necessary.
- Stay connected.
You can only be close to your child when you create time to spend together. There will always be excuses for career and house duties. Juggling between office work and being a mother is quite tiresome, but creating time to bond is equally essential. It will help you identify the strength and weaknesses of your child and know where guidance is needed.
Staying connected also helps in building trust with your teen. Absentia makes it difficult for a teen to open up. It is during the shared time that emotions are poured out. No emotional tie-up makes that bond of trust and sharing easy.
- When and how to set limits:
You push too much and expect so much from them.
Don’t panic. Let the teen be. It is a phase and not a life-long process. Have a compromising mind and let them take healthy risks. It is beneficial for them to suffer the consequences of their actions.
- It is a learning lesson:
Give room to establish ground rules and boundaries. You can always write the rules together; this way, the teen feels inclusive. Let them give their requirements and share their objectives. Own the parenting space by staying calm while they fight their way through the established rules.
- Don’t take problematic behavior personally:
They might just be acting out of biological shifts and environmental influence, which shades off over time. Create limits, but don’t administer punishment; instead, motivate them towards a change.
- Silence is not an option:
When you constantly communicate, the teen can decrease risky behaviors, reduce substance abuse, avoid dangerous sexual activities, and improve mental health. But staying silent for fear of aggression only gives them the energy to keep on messing. They feel they are now winning and you are losing.
- Talk about sex, alcohol, and substance abuse:
Disapprove of it and let the teenager know the consequences of indulging in rainy sexual behaviors. However, avoid an accusing tone, for it may lead to rebellion and aggression.
- The increased use of devices and social media content affects their lifestyle and attitudes:
Employ various measures such as rules on how and when to use them, monitor what they do, and cut them off entirely if it fails. You can also make them open up and be free to talk about what they do online and arrange how to use the gadgets if it proves beneficial to them.
In summary, the hardest parenting part for a teen could be far-fetched from your point of view. The end justifies the means through which you as a parent solve problems. Every parent is determined to bring up a God-fearing, obedient, resilient, and responsible adult. Considering all measures, it goes without saying that it all starts with you as a parent and ends with you. Make it happen in the best way possible.