You might already have a teenager to raise, or you might have a younger child, and you’re worried about the teenage years to come. There is always a lot of negativity shown around teenagers and young adults, but with good parenting and a positive way of life, there doesn’t need to be, and you can raise a happy, responsible, kind, caring, and considerate teenager who will become a successful adult. Here are some tips on how to do it.
Be A Parent And A Friend
Teenagers are complicated – they are full of confusion and hormones, caught somewhere between being a child and an adult. The child part of them craves their parents, and wants to be understood and cared for as they always have been. The adult part wants independence and responsibility. These two sides of a personality can come into conflict and cause confusion and lead to arguments.
The best option you have is to take each day – perhaps each hour – as it comes and determine whether you need to play the part of a parent or a friend. It will differ from day to day and from teenager to teenager. Some will need more parenting; others will want more friendship, others still will need a real combination of the two. It may take a little time to seek out the clues that will help you decide how to interact with your child, but after a while, they will become easier to spot.
Have Time Together
As mentioned above, no matter how ‘grown up’ a teenager feels or tries to be, they will still want dependable time with their parents. Make sure you have the time to be with them every day – even if it is just a few minutes to talk about their day (and yours), it is certainly better than nothing at all. Bedtime is a great time to re-enforce the bond between you because even if your teenager has not responded to you or even ignored you for most of the day, giving them a goodnight hug and letting them know you love them will refocus them and make them feel loved and appreciated.
It is also important to schedule in longer times together, such as day trips or movie nights. Whatever works for you and them, it is important to enjoy the time you have together. As your children get older, they will be with you less and less; a baby needs you 24 hours a day, a school-aged child only needs you when they’re not at school, and when they are more independent, your teenagers will spend the time they used to spend with you out with friends. Be sure to make the most of the time you have together, because it is so very precious.
Let Them Be Them
Being a teenager is hard; it is a confusing time, full of emotions and worries. Looking back as adults, those worries may seem trivial, but at the time they can be all-consuming. Therefore, it is important not to add to your teenager’s concerns by trying to make them into something and someone they are not. Even if you don’t understand their likes and dislikes, you shouldn’t try to shape them into another version of you, or into what you had always hoped they would be.
One way to show your teenager that you are happy for them to be exactly who they are (even if that person isn’t fully formed yet) is to let them choose their own career. They might want to have a healthcare management career or go into the military, or they might prefer to work with children or animals. Whatever it is that will make them happy and fulfilled is what they should be doing, and only they will know that. However, as a parent, you can certainly offer advice and information, as long as it is your child who makes the final decision.
Allow More Freedom
Although it might be hard, you will need to acknowledge that your son or daughter needs a little (or a lot) more freedom, and that means not being with them to keep an eye on them all the time. Not allowing this freedom and keeping them in the house with you, or going with them when they go out, will only cause them to rebel and make things much more difficult in the long term.
Of course, knowing where your children are is an important part of parenting, so asking is something you will want to do. The key to getting an answer and also to not seeming as though you are checking up on them is to make sure they know you are only asking because you care; you’re not going to go after them or interfere with their day or evening out.
Earlier in this article, we talked about spending time with your teenager. This can be hard if you’re working, or they are out a lot, but scheduling a family meal together at least once a week (more if you can) is the ideal time to ensure that your teenager is happy, healthy, and enjoying themselves as much as possible. Having a conversation around a dinner table where everyone can contribute, and everyone is allowed to have their say, and their opinion is one of the best ways to spend time with your child whilst also allowing them to develop their own views. Discussion is a great tool for parents as it will help you understand more about how your teenager is thinking and feeling.
An added benefit to eating together is that you can ensure your son or daughter is eating well at least once a week – this may not be their priority when they are eating out with friends or even on their own.
Have High Standards
Raising a teenager is full of learning curves, and your ideas and opinions may change as time goes on. However, something that should never change are the high standards you have for your children. If you find that they have been behaving disrespectfully to you, other people, or even themselves, then you will need to hold them to account. This may be uncomfortable for both of you, but it is essential that they understand why their behavior is not suitable.