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Effective Ways To Better Understanding Your Teenager
Source: Open Talk Magazine 12/12/2010 20:10:00
Only till yesterday you and your child were close like two peas in a pod. Then your child turned the dreaded 13 and suddenly it feels like you both aren’t even speaking the same language. How do you break the ice with the new ‘stranger’ in your home?
Being a mother or father to a teenager can be a parent’s worst nightmare. All of a sudden your child disagrees with everything you say and the last thing he or she wants is your advice. Most parents claim that peace in the home is replaced with loud arguments and loud music when there’s a teenager around. If you asked most teenagers what they thought about their parents, the majority of them are likely to say, ‘Our parents just don’t get us at all! They are so outdated.’ On the other hand, if you ask the parents what their teenagers are like, they are likely to say, "How can my one and only child claim I don’t know him or her?" How can a best friend be more important than a parent?’
Decoding Your Teenager
The teenage years are considered the first phase of adulthood and often the choices made within this time frame could have a lifetime impact. In order to better understand your teenager, you need to first try to remember what it was like to be a teenager. Most teenagers feel trapped in the sense that they are no longer considered children, but yet are also not considered adults. As parents, we’re unable to relax to the thought of them growing up, driving a car, or even going on a date.
Most parents can’t see their child mature enough to make adult type decisions; let alone take on something that requires maturity such as holding down a job or being involved in a committed relationship. On the other hand, all your teenager really wants is a chance to prove himself or herself and earn your trust and respect. This is why every time you put your foot down and say ‘no’ to a sleep-over or tell your teen to be back by 10pm on a Saturday night; they respond as if you said something totally absurd and humiliating.
Experts say that teenagers expect their parents to accept them as budding adults and to treat them as such. Even though this may seem out of bounds for you, it’s not a bad idea to at least begin to see them as a different person; meaning older, more matured; more responsible and not that little spanker still running around causing mayhem.
Your teenager wants to be seen for the individual he or she is; meaning the worse damage you can do as a parent is to compare your teenager to the other teenagers around the block. It could drastically lower your teenager’s self-confidence and make him or her feel degraded; thus build a sense of low self-worth. Unconsciously damaging your child’s self esteem is the last thing you want to do as a parent.
Most teenagers who may seem dense or scatter brained to you are more than likely just going through their own issues of finding their place and understanding the world around them. During this stage, teenagers often look for an idol, or someone who seems perfect. That someone could be anyone; ranging from an older sibling to a senior at school to a teen celebrity. They may seek to fit into the ‘in’ crowd which usually consists of the more popular or sophisticated teens. This is the time when your teenager is most vulnerable to outside dangers such as alcohol, drugs or sex. While many teenagers are smart enough to not get caught up in such activities, others may unintentionally lose their way while simply trying to fit in, and in turn form life damaging habits.
Becoming a Friend
Now is the time to prove to your teenager that you’re not just a good parent but a great friend to turn to as well. Teens are more open to sharing difficult situations or circumstances with parents who are easy listeners, and at the right times can lean more towards a mentor or friend instead of the hardcore parent. In the ever chaotic world of a teen, it’s important for them to have a stable and solid influence, and who better than the person(s) who have been around since day one?
While it’s important to be aware of who your teenager’s friends are and what they are up to, learn to draw a line and refrain from being overly intrusive. Being overly intrusive will give your teen the feeling of being treated like a child and in turn will be counterproductive. It may come as a surprise, but experts say that a parent-teen quarrel isn’t such a bad thing after all. Disagreements and arguments are considered a form of communication, and are needed when learning a new person, or a person whom recently came into a new self. In other words, disagreements are needed to build a strong understanding relationship.
By simply talking and listening to your teen for a few minutes every day, you can help your teen see things from different angles and make better decisions for the future. In fact, within a few years the annoying traits of anger, stubbornness and indecisiveness adults often associate with teens usually fades away. This may seem a paradox, but your child needs you more than ever when the candles on the cake reads number 13!