Let's start by acknowledging the fact that no parent is perfect no matter how much they may seem! We all make mistakes but this is part of the learning process. By the time your children become teenagers, you will have had a fair share of headache and series of misunderstandings. The interactions between parents and their teenagers are not without disruptions, miscommunications and misunderstandings. That is the reality when you get to this stage of the parenting journey. However, I have come to see these moments as crucial even though at the time they seemed weird and upsetting. These moments are part of the memories we create to connect with our teenagers.
I have also come to the realisation that my children would not remain those "little nursery kids" forever. As teenagers, they would display some stubbornness and push boundaries as they often do to try and get their way. I used to get really upset and scream the house down but as time went on, I changed my tactics by simply applying some skills and techniques that I would like to share below. These are by no means 'set in stone' but have definitely helped me navigate this important stage in my children's growth and development:-
Communicating with my teenagers is very important and letting them know they can talk to me about things that bother them whilst still remain respectful, of the fact that I am their mother, is very important. It is good to establish a reasonable level of discipline that would make them not rebel but reminding them clearly what is not allowed in our home. Also instilling in them family values that guarded me growing up. I realised that my children enjoyed story-telling and I became good at that 😊! Whenever I saw or read about negative events in the newspapers, I would share them with my children. Not only to emphasise the values I hold, but to show them the consequences of their actions if they were to do similar. Sometimes they would re-assure me that I have raised them well and that they would not display such a negative behaviour. My reply would be "bad company corrupts good ones" I basically reminded them to be careful who they had as friends, as friendship with the wrong company could lead to danger and the notion of "guilty by association". Communication and realising that children differ in ways of communicating their feelings are very important. This phase is hard but by God's grace, prayers and lots of affirmation, we shall be fine.
Parenting teenagers is another level of the parenting journey, there is no payment for the role and if you are looking for someone to thank you or praise you for a job well done, you are barking up the wrong tree! You have to remember that you are not their friend but you are there to guide, direct and support them. Growing up, my dad used to say "as long as you live under my roof, you must follow my rules". I still apply that principle to this day! Teenagers need to be reminded of boundaries, but at the same time, I do like to know what they are up to and it feels good that they tell me details of their interests and concerns. I am able to give my motherly advice and throw caution to the wind!
One thing I have come to realise is that teenagers become more trusting and know they can tackle difficult situations because they have the support from their parents (and loved ones). They feel listened to and know their needs would be met. I can count numerous occasions when they tell me that their friends cannot speak to their parents about issues they face, but would rather tell outsiders. This is heart breaking for any parent to hear as deep down, all parents want the best for their teenagers. At this stage in their lives, whenever we discuss life issues, I would throw in some pointers such as choosing the right person or maintain good work ethics which would guide them in their professional careers.
In this busy life we lead, it is important to make time for our teenagers. It may be going for walks, a drive, cinema, church, shopping or holidays, whatever, you do, make it worthwhile. I recently started connecting with nature and have been bringing my teenagers on my walks. I learn a lot just watching them interact with each other and with me.
Those of you with teenagers, how do you relate? Share your thoughts with our community. Keep up the good work!