From parent to friend – Transitions for parents of adolescents
Adolescence as a phase is characterized by rapid developments including, both physical as well as psychological changes. It is a crucial stage of development, not only for the adolescent, but for the parents as well, bringing with it a set of apprehensions and worries. It is not uncommon to hear parental concerns regarding the approaching teenage years, being associated with changing expectations and relationships. In fact, a majority of parents have been found to consider adolescence as being one of the most difficult stages for parenting. And while one of the easiest advice heard by such parents is to remember to try and befriend their teens.
Tips to Befriend your Teenage Kids
1. Connect with the teenager. As a parent to a teen, it is more important for you to be able to develop a connected relationship with the teenager, rather than having him or her disciplined and within your control. It is vital for the teenagers to be able to identify with their parents, and this is the stage they can form deep and long-lasting bonds with you, based on an understanding towards each other.
2. Serve as a support system. While it is common to find that teenagers are not willing to confide every little detail with their parents. However, rather than being punitive towards them for their deceptiveness, it is more important for letting the teenager know and feel the presence of your support, and to realize that you would be able to understand where he or she is coming from. The aim is to create an environment where the teenager or adolescent does not hesitate to communicate openly.
3. Adopt a participative approach. Such an approach works best for teenagers and adolescents, as involving them within the decision-making processes not only gives them a sense of acknowledgement and responsibility, but also makes them more committed towards implementing and fulfilling those decisions.
4. Set an example yourself. Young minds are very easily imprinted by what they see or hear around them. There is no way that your teenager will learn to deal effectively with conflicts if he/she doesn’t see you doing the same. Whether it be with your spouse, elders, or staff, you need to model appropriate behavior, so that the teenager can learn from your example, for instance of choosing to be assertive instead of aggressive.
5. Pick your battles. Remember that as a parent, it is important for you to be able to give in at times. The teenagers need to learn that life doesn’t always function as per their own will, and that we all need to be ready to compromise at times. However, you need to be cautious to choose more inconsequential things to give in to, so that you can be firm to refuse more major decisions.
6. Don’t hesitate to reason it out. Reasoning is not necessarily equivalent to arguing. Instead of having to justify or defend yourself, try and ensure that your communications are not simply instructions or orders that need to be implemented, but also make an effort to convey the reason underlying such a requirement.
7. Be open to hearing out the teenager. One of the biggest mistakes often made by parents is to have a one-sided communication, and to stifle out the teenager’s point of view. On the contrary, it is important to allow adolescents to be able to express themselves in an open and receptive environment.
8. Have fun! Yes, it is possible to actually enjoy with your adolescents, and also learning from them in the process. Engaging and becoming involved in their activities can be a good start, and reciprocally can also help in encouraging them to take an interest in your own tasks as well.