Parenting advice - parenting teens

Parenting teenagers is one huge but delicate task. Most parents find it a baffling experience that the child that was constantly jabbering, endlessly playing, boisterous and noisy has now become silent, reclusive and secretive. This child now answers all questions in monosyllables, does not like to be spoken to at length and wants to stay behind closed doors and undisturbed. Or sometimes it is high drama and emotional outburst. Parents become suspicious or concerned and both of these reactions are annoying to the teenager. Parenting teenagers is a difficult job - now it becomes a confusing and puzzling one.

Tips for parenting teenagers effectively


Communicate  Communication is the main problem in parenting  teenagers. Talk to them, keep the stream of conversation flowing. Find subjects of conversation that is interesting to your teenager, arm yourself with more information, and use it as a bridge. If your teen likes basket ball, make sure that you know all the facts about the team he follows and spend time watching a game with him or her. This builds the relationship and makes it stronger. Ask questions and seek information from your teenager that you do not have and you have a buddy, if you persue it soon enough you will build bridges of trust.

Listen. One common mistake parents tend to make while parenting teens is that they do no not listen to them. Don’t just listen to the words that your teenager is speaking; listen to the emotions behind the words. Be alert to listen to your child’s emotions especially when he/she is talking about school or friends, teachers or significant others. Make mental notes, keep tabs without intruding and help out when help is needed without making it noticeable.

Enjoy their company. I know you are thinking ‘Oh no. You don’t know my son/daughter”. Well, I don’t presume to know, but I can tell you that it helps. Parenting a teenager can be fun if you learn to enjoy their company. This takes patience and protracted effort. There are no magic spells or tricks to it. You have to do it the hard way. I will ask you to consider something – would you not make an effort if this was a teenager that you were helping out with and not parenting? I am sure if not all; most of us would go out of our way to be patient and extremely tolerant. Spend quality time with your Teenagers.

Be positive. This is the best part of parenting a teenager; you can have your teen eating out of your hands, if you could do this sincerely. Being a nurturing parent who instills self confidence in your teenager is the best thing a parent could ever do for a teenager. The more positive comments you make, the more you will find your teen making efforts to live up to your expectations. You do not have to say these things directly. I have noticed that when my son gets to hear about what I think about him from others, he is more willing to do what I want. I can vouch for positive parenting of teenagers.

Speak, don’t command. I dread going to school and having to meet parents of other teenagers ( not because I have a problem) I hate negative talk and most parents only have negative comments about their protégé.  Yes, your teenager has a lot of flaws but catch him/her doing the right things often, if you are in the process of building your relationship. If you are constantly saying “do this” or “don’t do that”, they become rebellious. I have seen parents who comment on positive actions of their children making it sound so negative. Make a compliment sound like a compliment. Say “Wow! That is a clean room, son.  You have worked really hard at it” instead of, “Oh, so you finally got down to cleaning your room.”

Treat your teen with respect I know it is hard, especially when they show no respect or are rebellious.  You will at least have their attention when you keep your cool and treat them as individuals in their own right, that is what they are fighting for in the first place. So now you have them.

Do not add to the pressure As parents of teens will you believe me if I tell you that your teenager needs your support? Yes, they are under much stress to perform to your expectations, to be accepted by their friends, trying to find their identity and having to prove themselves.  Help your teen relax; show him/her easy ways to handle subjects or stuff they have issues with. Get help or resources that will ease pressure. Make confidence building statements and make them feel that you have faith in them.

Discipline is a must. Parenting teenagers does not mean you have to be the loser all the time. Set the rules; let your teenager know the limits.  Rules should be clear, precise and well communicated. Issuing ultimatums or threats make them rebellious but do make them feel the pinch of having broken limits. Correction should be proportionate to the action and never harsh or too light. Both have adverse repercussions.

Be consistent. Enforce discipline consistently. Be the same with all your children. Use the same standards and measures with all and at all times. This doesn’t mean you should be extremely rigid. Be flexible with reason and tell your teen why you are letting it pass by.

Provide a certain amount of freedom and room to take up responsibility. Exploration is good but they should know the dangers of it. Encourage your teenager to take up new challenges. Stand by him/her and give them your support.

Be the model that you want your children to follow. Preaching is no good, if you do not walk the talk. Your teenagers respect you for what you do, not what you say. Teenagers are smart so don’t break the rules yourself.

Most importantly, love them. Yes, show your teenager that you love him/her. Say it verbally; repeat it as many times as you can. Your touch and hugs may seem to be shrugged off but they do leave an indent. Remember that they are still children and they need your love.

I am confident that if we change the way we look at teenagers, parenting teenagers would be fun and an enriching experience for every parent. Everyday I learn something from the teenager I raise. I am sure you could too. I wish you happy parenting!!