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The Frustrations And Rewards Of Parenting Teenagers

Most parents - whether they admit it​ or​ not - react to​ the​ onset of​ their child's teenage years with either trepidation or​ absolute dread. we​ look back to​ our own teenage years,​ and wonder how our parents lived through our fads,​ our raging hormones,​ our rebellion,​ and our attitudes. It's almost as​ though,​ overnight,​ our parents went from knowing everything to​ knowing nothing,​ from understanding our hopes and dreams to​ being clueless about who we​ are and what we​ want out of​ life. Looking back,​ we​ know that parenting teenagers is​ no cakewalk,​ and can't begin to​ imagine how we'll survive the​ ordeal.

If only there was a​ parent handbook or​ parent directory,​ teens would be so much easier to​ raise. Even a​ family newsletter with tips and hints would be welcomed and make us feel as​ though we're not alone in​ our journey. There's never a​ doubt that we​ want what's best for our children,​ but what are we​ supposed to​ do when we​ lose our equanimity and get sucked into yet another argument about friends or​ clothes or​ the​ car? is​ there any hope of​ ever having another enjoyable family vacation? How do we​ know when our teenager just has the​ blues and when he or​ she is​ clinically depressed? if​ it's the​ latter,​ what are the​ skills involved in​ parenting troubled teens?

Although we​ may approach our child's teenage years with dread,​ the​ truth is​ that parenting teenagers can be rewarding. Here are four tips to​ get through those teenage years.

1. Acknowledge our power. Although our teens would be loath to​ admit it,​ we​ still wield an​ enormous amount of​ influence over them. we​ may not think they're listening to​ us,​ but they are. During stressful times when we're tempted to​ take the​ bait and lay down ultimatums or​ get into an​ argument,​ it's important to​ remember that we're still role models for our teens. the​ more often we​ take the​ high road,​ the​ more they'll benefit.

2. Loosen the​ apron strings. It's difficult to​ accept that the​ purpose of​ the​ teenage years is​ to​ separate and differentiate from parents. When our teenagers begin to​ develop their own personal tastes and opinions,​ and especially when they want to​ be treated "as adults,​" it's hard to​ find the​ right balance between maintaining control and allowing them to​ nurture their individuality. we​ have the​ right and the​ obligation to​ set rules and standards,​ but we​ can't set them arbitrarily. if​ our teens demonstrate that they're trustworthy,​ we​ must give them room to​ grow.

3. Be vigilant. It's difficult to​ imagine that parenting teenagers is​ more difficult than parenting toddlers,​ but it's true. we​ may have loosened the​ apron strings,​ but that doesn't mean we​ should let go. All teenagers have secrets,​ and it's our job to​ make sure that our teens' secrets don't have the​ potential to​ harm themselves or​ others. That doesn't mean snooping (trust goes both ways),​ but it​ does mean staying involved in​ and aware of​ their activities and friends.

4. Listen with our ears and our hearts. Teenagers are notoriously uncommunicative,​ so listening is​ doubly important. This means listening both when they're speaking and when they're not. as​ the​ saying goes,​ silence can speak volumes,​ so it's crucial to​ learn to​ interpret the​ different kinds of​ silence. we​ also need to​ learn to​ listen by asking. This doesn't mean hounding our teens with questions,​ but asking their opinions and truly hearing what they have to​ say - without passing judgment or​ correcting them. All teens seek acceptance,​ and although most go through periods of​ feeling acceptance is​ lacking from their peers,​ we​ can fill in​ the​ gaps.

There's no doubt that parenting teenagers is​ incredibly challenging. And the​ reality is​ that we​ may not see the​ fruits of​ our efforts for several years. But when we​ devote the​ time and develop the​ skills to​ effectively parent our teens,​ we​ will experience the​ rewards,​ both now and in​ the​ future.


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