I’m sure there are many parents out there who are worried about their teenage son or daughter. Maybe they seem depressed, or angry and frustrated, or are rebelling to extremes. However, no matter how concerned you are, there are some very important points to remember before you approach your teen.
- You may not be the right person to help. Teenagers are starting the process of separating themselves from their parents, and they have a lot of history (good and bad) with you. Their peer groups are where they look for support, but someone they respect outside the family unit may make a difference as well. Sometimes teens and parents need a proper break from each other in order to get along. If things get very bad it might be better for them to stay with another trusted adult for a while. If this happens you have not failed, in fact you are protecting your future relationship with them.
- Never forget that their brain is being ‘renovated’ over this time. If a teenager is not making sense with what decisions they make or what they say, remember that they are dealing with huge physiological changes internally. Be prepared to ride this out with out taking it personally! Hard I know.
- You must let them have some independence. I’m not meaning letting them go to every wild party that comes around – but in day to day decisions about their lives. If a teenager feels they have some control over their life they are less likely to go off the rails.
- Doing drugs, drinking to excess, being highly promiscuous and generally getting in trouble are not necessary ‘just what teenagers do’, they usually do these things to cope with hurt and frustration. If your teen is headed in this direction then try your best to get them some help. Their brains are so vulnerable to damage while they are still developing.
- Lead by example. If you are concerned about your teenager’s behavior then you need to model behavior that is stable and reliable. If you cannot do this it might be time to get some support for yourself. You are the adult here, they are still learning and will make mistakes.
To be fair, I write these things acknowledging that I am not an expert, or perfect with my own children – but I do have experience with helping families survive these stages. Please add any advice you may have in comments. I think every parent needs as much help as they can get through the teen years!
If you have time please wander over to my Facebook page page and give it a like 🙂