Bridging the Gap Between Teenagers and Parents
Teenage-hood is perhaps the most challenging period in parenting, and as well as to teens themselves. It is the time when a teenager gets to know and understand who he is, and develops a perception of who he wants to be. It’s a period of conflicting personalities and emotional instability. To the parents, it’s a time when worries and uncertainty seem to top the list of concerns, and more often than normal, they would find themselves at conflict over trivial issues. To bridge the gap between parents and teenagers, they both have to understand each other’s worlds.
Teenage world is complex yet exciting. They love the freedom of expression as they engage in pursuit of their personal desire. Top of the list is the desire for recognition and acceptance. A teen will go to lengths to do things that connect them to a group or an individual they adore. Such things may include dyeing of hair to resemble a celebrity, or wearing a tattoo as a symbol of membership to a group. Teens adore recognition and enjoy thriving on attention they get around malls or in schools. Life can be stressful when it comes to completion of tasks around the house or assignment from school. They easily become vulnerable to their peers when they indicate a character or behavior that makes them different from others, especially if it is a medical condition. Control is their biggest enemy. Their argument mainly centers in their desire to be respected. If you want to control a teen, control the big things. It usually not worth to pick a fight over the cleanliness of their rooms or their choice of music, or clothes.
Teenagers center the world to themselves, as parents find themselves worried about them. I believe most parents have the best interests of their children at heart and would go to lengths to ensure their safety, as well as provision of their basic and secondary needs. As much as a parent would want his or her teen child to enjoy him or herself, He/she will emphasize on the importance of pursuing a balanced life. A little bit of enjoyment is good if the academic performance remains high. A parent will worry about the consequences of joining a wrong peer group. The dangers of drug abuse and alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, teenage auto accidents, among many others are real and present. In an effort to monitor every move of the teenage child, a parent will find him/herself on the brink of controlling every single move of the child, creating a situation that can easily generate tension and eventual fall out.
Naturally, a parent takes up the responsibility to reach his/her teenage child, and presumably plays a big role in bridging the gap between him/her and the teen child. To be successful in improving relationship between him/her and his/her child, three simple strategies must be employed in the process. The first is
Like any other relationship, communication is vital for the relationship to thrive. A survey from seventeen magazine indicated that parents disrespect their teenage children at least a few times a month, by either ignoring them, cutting them off before they finish talking, or doing something else such as answering a phone call while they are talking. These tendencies lead to alienation of the child. To improve communication, show respect and give full attention when they need it. If teens receive the right attention from home, then they will be empowered to make the right decision and attract the right attention while out with peers. Cultivate a culture of consultation, especially if decisions to be made that directly affect your teen child. When in a disagreement, take a pro- above all, maintain a spirit of openness and sincerity with your child that he/she will feel safe to share with you his/her deepest feelings.
Spending time together is very important. Teenagers always enjoy guidance from adults although they may not openly express it. It’s best to put sometime aside to be with your teen child, doing stuff together. It is also important to respect the time your teen child wants to be with his/her peers. Therefore avoid scheduling activities with him/her during those times. Plan well in advance and do it together. In fact, the impact of this approach would be much more felt and appreciated if you empower your child with the choice of things to do.
Set goals together
The biggest mistake most parents do it to set goals for their children without involving them. A teen child often feels the pressure when a lot is expected from him/her, especially if he was not involved in setting those goals. By involving your teen child in setting goals, you are likely to achieve your desired results, with 100 % input by both you and the child. The success of a child relies on the approach his/her parents use to raise him/her. Set goals as a team, and recognize your weak point and strategy to address those points. Be as realistic as possible and develop an evaluation process to correct any fall outs. Once you achieve your goals, move on to the next goal and repeat the process. Always maintain your leadership position and your teen child will follow your footsteps.
By Ibrahim Mabwa
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