"Oh, the terrible teens”
It's all too common when parents complain about how their children are becoming moodier and more irritable as they are entering their teenage years. Teenagers often become more withdrawn into their own private world and tend to spend more time with their friends than with their families. Parents are well aware of the helplessness that could come when parenting teenagers and often struggle to understand them and communicate with them. This stress often puts parents on edge and small arguments are magnified into intense fights. Teenagers are often misunderstood and stereotyped to be this difficult population that is awful to deal with. Oftentimes, people undergo many challenging experiences and struggles during their teenage years; it’s a rollercoaster and teenagers often have little control over these changes. While parents and teenagers both have good intentions when communicating together, the age gap that exists between them as well as the differences in their thinking processes can hinder them from communicating smoothly and clearly.
Life as a teenager...
The adolescence stage of life is considered an intensely difficult period. Teenagers are going through a transitional phase between childhood and adulthood, where they are seeking to understand and discover themselves and everything around them. Teenagers are trying to discover the world around them, questioning their morals and values, and figuring themselves out. They are questioning themselves, their identity, and the kind of person they want to be when they grow older.
Why do teenagers act the way they do?
Teenagers are usually seen as rebellious and uncontrollable; however, teenagers are acting as such because they don’t want to be restricted to a specific label. Teenagers want to be free to explore their identity and figure out their own likes and dislikes, as well as participate in different hobbies and activities. Parents may find it difficult to understand the unique experiences that their teenage daughters and sons are going through. Although parents were teenagers themselves, each generation’s struggles are different. Some parents may find that their teenage daughters or sons are overreacting to certain situations or that their reactions are “out of context”, however, teenagers are going through a drastic process of growth and development and are trying to figure everything out. During adolescence, teenagers go from being carefree children to suddenly growing up and having responsibilities. While teenagers may have physically grown up to look like adults, their minds still haven’t completely developed yet and they still haven’t matured. Teenagers may be seen as being immature and impulsive, however, teenagers’ brains are adapted to be constantly acquiring new knowledge and skills, in order to help them take on adult roles and responsibilities.
How can parents tend to teenagers' needs?
Teenagers, like anyone, need love and care from their parents. However, the way parents interact with them shouldn’t stay as it was when they were children. The dynamics of the relationship are bound to experience a shift, as teenagers are held to a higher standard than they were before.
Teach values and principles early on
Starting at a young age, parents should, therefore, teach their children the rules and ethics that will stick with them as they grow up. They could give them responsibilities and teach their children that there are consequences to their actions. It is difficult to expect a person to be suddenly given major responsibilities when their whole childhood completely lacked these responsibilities. As children, they can be given minor tasks such as keeping their room clean, making their bed, studying well, and finishing their homework on time.
Freedom vs parenting
It is inevitable that teenagers will feel that they are lacking freedom and that their parents are controlling every aspect of their lives. While this doesn't mean that you should give in to their every demand, you can compromise on some aspects. You can be more flexible in terms of their hairstyles, clothing, or food choices. What is more important than planning our teenagers’ schedules to the minute, whether it is their bedtimes, mealtimes, or doctors' appointments, is to guide them and provide them with emotional support.
“We step down as primary decision-makers and step up our coaching”
Have frequent windows of communication
Having a regular space for communication and check-ins, even if it ends up being a three-minute conversation while having dinner or a regular weekly routine for doing something together such as taking a walk together. Adolescents have very high potential as they are high in energy and have vast desires for growth, learning, and following their dreams. They are the ones behind major historical ideas and they have the potential to come up with new creative ideas to better our community.