Are you and your child on a journey through the teenage years? On every journey, one needs a survival kit. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it highlights a few key elements that are necessary to build a healthy relationship with your teen.
Pack your bags; we’re going on an adventure! You will need:
Parents, expect bumps! Teens may be any combination of dramatic dating relationships, hair-raising hormone levels, failed friendships, or scary school situations. As they navigate on this path, understand that you may be the easiest target of their fatigue and frustration along the way. Accept the bumps as normalcy.
A Support Team
Even “that mom,” whose teens always seem perfectly respectful and mature, would tell you of situations that would prove otherwise. To hear from others that what you are going through is normal can turn your fear and frustration into encouragement and resolve. Make sure you spend time with friends in the same stage who are honest and caring.
Make yourself available for information relating to your teen. Ask your teen open-ended questions and listen. Designate a certain time of the week that you can have quality 1:1 time with your teen. Talk to teachers, coaches, counselors, or youth pastors about the struggles teens face, and don’t be afraid to approach those topics with your teen.
Be a parent – not a friend. Teenagers need stability, responsibility and accountability, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise. It may be temporarily less painful to take “their side” when conflict arises, but the long-term effects are damaging. Consider what is best for your teen, and stand your ground. Their development requires you to be consistent.
Encourage instead of criticize. Be calm when they are not. Be proactive instead of reactive. Practice your patience. Enjoy learning how this child who came from you now sees the world through different lenses than yours. Practice respect. Show your teen daily what a gift it is to be his/her parent.
We want to help you through these tough years. If you or your teen are in need of professional help, don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-691-4336 for a free, confidential assessment. You can also visit us online at AveraBehavioralHealth.org.