Parenting a teen most times can seem as an exercise in futility. For all of our help and advice, it’s as though they’re dead-set on making the wrong choice.
- What is wrong with them?
- Weren’t they listening?
- Do they just not care?
Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are ways to get into the mind of your teen, but like all relationships, the key to a strong bond is communication. Here are some of the things your teen may be saying to you and what they really mean.
“Stop trying to fix things for me.”
Sometimes the key to good communication is simply to listen. For some parents that are natural problem solvers, even their best intentions to help fix things are exactly the opposite of what a person needs. This is doubly true for teens. When the opportunity to fix their own situations is taken away through unsolicited advice, it robs them of the chance to discover something new.
“After I’ve done something wrong and taken my punishment, stop bringing it up.”
If a lesson is going to stick, then poor behavior must be met with consequences. Once that’s been done, however, parents would do best to let the issue rest. Constantly reminding someone of their failures does nothing to encourage them. Not only does it tell them that this is how you view them, but over time it could teach them to view themselves through the lens of everything they’ve done wrong, and that’s never good.
“Sometimes it’s all just too much.”
No matter how much we try to teach our children how to cope with difficult situations, the stress of everyday teen life can be overwhelming. From the expectations, to peer pressure, to their own sense of uncertainty in it all, it can be too much for anyone. When they’re lashing out at anyone around them may be exactly the time to offer understanding and support to calm the situation, instead of beratement for losing their temper.
“I’m as good as my sibling.”
This can be a hard one. For parents who see their children as equals, it can be easy to see them as copies. Everyone has different capabilities, and is good at something. It’s important that, instead of comparing your children to one another, to acknowledge each for their own accomplishments, and remember they’re individuals.
“Can’t it just be about me sometimes?”
In our struggle as parents to teach our children about empathy, consideration, and compassion, it can be easy to ignore the fact that we’re preventing them from receiving the attention they need. It’s critical to remind them that they are valuable, and sometimes it is okay for it to be about their struggles and for them to focus on what they need.
“Stop trying to control me.”
After spending their entire life trying to protect them from the dangers of the world, the hardest thing for a parent can be letting go. All of the advice and guidance can be stifling to a teenager struggling to break out into their own sense of independence. When this happens, we as parents need to remind ourselves that our children are their own people and they need the freedom to make their own choices – and mistakes – and deal with the consequences.
Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin