Your teen is more likely to listen to you if he sees you as a ‘cool’ parent. If you don’t know how to go about becoming one, here’s help...
By Anju Ann Mathew
Teenage can be difficult. But it can also be exciting and your teenager may want to try out all kinds of things, especially things that adults do. This comes with its own risks. So, as a parent, you have to ensure that you are always there for your teen. But, do it in such a way that she values your presence in her life and considers you a ‘cool’ parent.
1. Don’t compare: Every child is special and has his own unique traits. No two children have the same learning abilities, creativity or talent. So, if your neighbour’s child scores 95% in his exams and your child scores 50%, take care not to compare. That will only demotivate him and is definitely not what a cool parent should do. Instead, try to figure out what your child is good at and build on that.
2. Allow your teen to make her life choices: If you find that your teen isn’t interested in, say, the field of science, let her figure out what she wants to do. Your role is to motivate her so that she finds her passion. But let her make her own choices. Don’t force her to do what you want because she may not even have the aptitude for it. Give her the freedom to do what she is passionate about. Your coolness meter will definitely shoot up.
3. Relax – crushes are a part of growing up: Your teen will most likely develop a crush on someone in school. Don’t worry. That’s just a part of growing up. If he tells you about it, you’ll know you’re a cool parent. If he doesn’t, then you’ll know there’s a gap that needs to be bridged. Perhaps you’re the kind of parent who pressures your child to act according to your rules. And, maybe, that is why he is hesitant about approaching you.
4. Don’t embarrass your child in front of others: Some things need to stay within the family. If you embarrass your child in front of others, then you might be struck off the ‘cool parent’ list. Your teen may be an amazing dancer, may take immense pride in what she does and may even dream of dancing on the big stage watched by a massive audience. But, she may be uncomfortable performing in front your friends. So, if guests come home, don’t say, “Show uncle and aunty how well you dance.” That will make you extremely uncool.
5. Be happy your child brings his problems to you: If your child comes to you for advice to sort out his problems, you should be happy that where parenting is concerned you’re playing the right cards!
6. Don’t nag your child: If your child’s bed is messy, let it be. Don’t go on about how she should keep her room clean. Keeping quiet about such things is one of the toughest parts of parenting; but, it can be done. She will eventually learn. Remember she is also going to be a parent one day!
7. Follow your own rules: Your lifestyle influences your child. So, to make sure your teen doesn’t fall prey to drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, take a look at your own lifestyle and make changes, if necessary. If, as a parent, you’re the reason for your child going down the wrong path, then you can be sure you are anything but cool.
8. Make sure to be involved: All said and done, taking care of your child is your responsibility. Not being involved in her life could result in her going down the wrong path. That could really damage her future. But, discipline her wisely; counsel her so that she doesn’t stray from what’s right.
9. Find the right balance: If you try to be overly cool, you might end up not doing your duty as a parent. If you are too strict and restrict him from doing too many things, your teen may just not confide in or relate to you. So, find the right balance. If you use discipline moderately, then your teen will respond well and you will remain someone he looks up to.
10. Have fun together: Joining your child in her leisure activities will make her feel that you are so ‘cool’ to enjoy spending time with her and having fun. It will also strengthen the bond between the two of you.
The teenage years can be difficult and confusing. But, by being a cool parent - someone your child can turn to at any time - you can definitely help to make this phase of her life easier for her.
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Anju Ann Mathew