Sahil, a 17-year-old school boy, stormed into his house grumpily from school. Flinging his bag at the corner he went to his room. He switched on his stereo system and started to listen to loud music, ignoring the calls of his mother. Finally, his mother walked into the room and paused, "Sahil! How many times have I told you not to play your music so loud at this hour? It disturbs old Mr Rajan and all the neighbours who take their afternoon nap around now. And why did you throw your bag in the living room?" As Sahil's mother droned on, Sahil's only reply was a baleful look.
The teen years are often seen as quite tumultuous by many parents. These are years of intense growth, including physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral growth. Children at this age are trying to find their place in the world and it is important for parents to attempt to be caring and loving towards their offspring. With a little guidance, you as a parent can peacefully co-exist with your teenagers during these years as well.
One of the most common hallmarks of teens is said to be their rebellious nature. They are not only seen as individuals who aspire to push the envelope, but also as rebels who often disregard valuable advice from their seniors while doing so. This image is stereotypical and not entirely true. You need to understand how your children are growing and learn how to respond to these changes in behaviour in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts with your teens.
In order to understand and love your teenager you need to learn to empathise with him or her. Empathy is all about putting yourself in someone else's shoes. In this case, it is trying to remember how it was for you when you were a teenager and trying to look at their world through their eyes.
Allow for independence
It is important for you to understand that your children are growing into budding adults, and so they require their privacy and independence. This is normal. Yet, as a responsible parent, you do need to have an idea about what your children are up to. It is important for reasons of safety to ensure that parents know where, or with whom, their children are, and what activities they are involved in. At the same time, as a parent you need to respect their space, and understand that you cannot hope to be part of every area in your children's life. It will require a very fine sense of balance to do this juggling act.
Understand your teen's anger
The teenage years characteristically induce feelings of insecurity. These are the years where peer pressure peaks and your child transcend from being, just kid to a young adult. There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion for your kids regarding their future and what they want to be.
It is important for you to understand their feelings and their point of view. Try to ascertain the source of their anger and insecurities. Remember that you are trying to help them resolve their issues; do not let the discussions degenerate into shouting matches that have no winners. You need to guide your children to express their anger in acceptable ways. It is also important for parents to continue to be role models for their teens. They are as impressionable as young children and often copy the behaviour of their parents.
Avoid arguments on perception
Try to avoid arguing with your teens about how they see the world. Instead, clarify your position and explain why you feel that way about a certain issue. Do not lecture or preach to your teens, but rather, try to come down to their level and empathise with them. Think out your arguments before you actually present them to your children. Also, while having a discussion with your teen, stick to one issue at a time. This will help ensure that there is no loss of focus and it results in a clear message to your teens. This might also help prevent misinterpretations.
Talk to your teen
As a loving parent, remember to take time out during the day to sit with your teens and talk to them. Learn about how their day was, and what activities they have been involved in during the day. Ensure that your conversation involves them, or it will turn into a monologue, or worse still "another lecture" from their point of view. Towards this end, discourage ‘one-word' responses from your children. One way to achieve this is by posing open-ended questions, answers to which will have to be more than a yes or no. Take advantage of spare time available to you, for instance while driving or waiting in queues, to talk with your teens.
Reinforce your relationship
Telling your teens that you love them is not enough at times. You need to express your love in a way that they can appreciate. Try to show your teen that you are confident of their capabilities. Try to recognise their efforts at being independent and acknowledge them for this. Create family rituals—activities that involve getting parents and teens together on a weekly or daily basis.
By trying to put yourself in your teen's shoes and empathising with them you will learn to understand them even more and have a more fruitful experience as they grow. Soon the teen years will be terrific rather than torturous for both of you.
Do you find your teens have gone out of your control? Do you think teens today are worse than those in the past? Do you believe that the generation gap between teens and parents today is growing? Do you feel parents are being too strict or too liberal with how their teens behave? Do parents fail to empathise with their teens today? Share your views and comments click here.