Your charming child breaks away from you, questions your decisions, guards her privacy – unable to understand what’s happening? Wake up parent, she is in the throes of teenage self-discovery.
By Arundhati Swamy
Do teens want advice from parents? Yes, they do! Do teens like the way parents give advice? No, they don’t! Because our advice gives them readymade solutions – how to do it, when to do it, why to do it! They want to figure those things out for themselves.
The voice on the phone was one of anguish. “I need help. My teen kid and I, we end up arguing most of the time. This never happened before. She was so sweet and would always take my help. I used to feel so happy helping her. Now it’s just the opposite. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“My teen kid.” Teen? Kid? Paradoxical, isn’t it? It must be one or the other. Goodbye childhood, hello teens. While the transition to the next phase in life happens by default in children (all determined by active pruning in the brain), parents must change their operating systems. Teenagers are a delightfully confusing breed of humans! ‘Change’ becomes the official password. Parents, arm yourselves, fortify your emotions, and take deep breaths as often as you can. Be prepared to live in the present. The memories of your teen’s childhood are, at the most, comforting. So, cherish them. But, the comfortable, snug relationship with your child is mutating and transforming. While your teen is hitting the fast-forward key, you yearn to press the rewind option. Who needs the storms of dissent and conflict? Time to hit the refresh button!
There’s so much of sound advice that teens can do well to heed. So, what are the common issues that sometimes take the charm out of the parent–teen equation?
“That’s not how it’s done!”. Sounds familiar? How do we ever find that delicate balance between tradition and modernity? Stark traditions are pitted against exciting, attractive and bold attitudes. While you flaunt the wisdom and value of traditions and cultural practices, your teen happily flouts those very norms with gusto to explore, experience and evaluate for herself.
No, we’re not talking about the Quit India Movement! Rather, it’s the Quirky Teen Movement! Where ‘different’ is the watchword for Opportunity – to learn and grow through courage and creativity. While your teen is ready to leap into the unknown, with all good intention, you naturally grab the safety net of your own native instincts and all that is familiar to you.
Family – it’s a sacred word in our culture, and for good reason! Adolescence arrives with a flourish and shakes up the very foundations of connections that glue family relationships. Teen friendships capture intimate territory, ousting you from your reign. The loss of prime time with children leaves you all shaken up and stirred! How could anyone else ever take your place?
“Hold on, hold tight. We know what’s best for you!” Well, that’s your job, isn’t it? What do you do when your teen says, “Let go! It’s my life?” You freeze! The spirit of adventure promises novelty, risks and thrills. However, those unsafe boundaries could trap your teen in regretful decisions. That’s scary! The result? An unhappy, resentful, difficult-to-handle teen! Whew, from the frying pan into the fire!
Home – where safety and comfort come with a life-time guarantee. Well, almost always! It’s the hardest thing to do – let your child spread his wings and take off into the wide world. Fears crowd your mind – lurking threats, unwelcome influences, and behaviours and cultures alien to your core values and beliefs. Is it a safe world out there?
Parenting a teen is like having one foot in the security of the known, the other in the uncertainty of the unknown! Enough to put us in a spin, right? Teens don’t want dreary speeches, staid opinions, biased judgements and solutions.
Our advice in practice and action is what they want. And it’s alright to slip in some words of wisdom occasionally. We must have our say after all!!
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