Parenting a teenager is never easy. You may feel exhausted from lying awake at night worrying about where your child is, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. You may despair over failed attempts to communicate, the endless fights, and the open defiance—not to mention the moodiness, the intense emotions, and the impulsive and reckless conduct. Here are 4 steps to ease the stress at home and help your teen transition into a happy, successful adult.
If you have not been working to maintain a close relationship with your child, it is super important that you apologize to them for your lack of time and attention. Maybe you made mistakes, got overly angry in the past or had fights with your teenager. If you made mistakes, don´t be too shy to admit them. It’s important for your teenager to learn that mum and dad make mistakes too, and that most importantly, they are able to admit them. If you felt disconnected to your child in the past months, explain to them that you have allowed other things to get in the way of your relationship but that from now on you are committed to making them a priority.
Sometimes even the most loving parent will have to take drastic decisions, in some cases. It’s important for parents to understand that this doesn’t make them a bad mum or dad. When it’s time to tell your child that they are no longer allowed to go out with those friends or watch those movies or use those apps, explain to them why. Even though they may not be happy about your decision, they still need to know deep down inside that you are ultimately doing it because you care about them and that you’re not just on a “power trip” so many teens accuse their parents of doing.
3. Spend time
Now that you’ve committed to your child that you will make them a priority, it’s time to do it! Take your teenagers on outings, eat dinner together as a family, turn your phone off when they start talking to you and give them your undivided attention. Go to great lengths to be at every ball game, show up with chocolate when your daughter is emotional, and say yes to as many things as you possibly can, especially when it involves the family spending time together. These things will take sacrifice, and you will have to give up some of the things you might want to do, but that is exactly how your teenager will know how much you value them – when you are willing to give up your own agenda to do what’s best for them.
4. Grow together
Remember that once you were exactly the same age as your child is now. They will make mistakes, just as you did when you were their age, but that does not mean they need a lecture every time or an over-the-top punishment. Speaking with gentleness and understanding will go much further than displaying anger and frustration.
Do you want your teenager to be impacted in an incredible way? Be open with them in sharing your own struggles when you were young and grow along with your teen. They will see that mom and dad aren’t claiming to be perfect and don’t expect them to be either.
If you think you and your child would benefit from professional support, or if you have any further questions, don´t hesitate to reach out here.
Charlie Chen is studying psychology and is currently doing an internship with Willingness. His research interests are existential approaches and affirmative therapy.