It is not easy to cope up with children once they reached the puberty stage, followed by the teenage stage. A teenager is going through rapid physical and emotional changes and parents and teenagers must both make changes in their relationships to adjust to this new stage.
Teenagers go backwards and forwards between wanting freedom and yet still needing the security of the family. We as parents want our children to grow to happy independence, yet fear for their safety as we watch them try their wings. We have to cope with the fact that the dreams we have had for our children may not come true - for teenagers have their own dreams. Teenagers have to cope with their parents who often don’t let them do the things they so much want to do. A good relationship with our teenager will help us both to weather the ups and downs.
What We (Me and my husband) did?
First, we spend time with our sons.
This is often hard to arrange as young people usually want to spend a lot of time with their friends, so we have to be very flexible in order to make sure it happens.
Here are some suggestions for special times.
- Mealtimes - my family eats together at dinner, the time of the day where we can share what happened during the day, what’s the latest news, ideas and interests.
- Drive them when they need to be dropped off. Offering to drive gives us a good opportunity for time together. Teenagers often talk more easily when not looking at you face to face.
- Bedtime. A visit to their bedroom for a casual chat worked on us both.
- Coffee time. We use a few spare minutes to offer to take them out for a coffee or milkshake or shopping.
It isn’t easy to find special times but if you can manage it’s worth it.
Second, we respect their privacy.
- We give them some space of their own. Ask their permission to enter their room.
- Don’t go through their cell phones or drawers in their absence.
- Don’t pry for information except where it is important for us to know to make sure they are safe. For example, it is okay to ask teenagers to let you know where they will be when they are not at home.
Third, we allow them to invite their friends in the house during occasions and permit them to sleep over if a group school project needs to be done overnight.
Fourth, I take an interest in their interests - and share mine.
- I try listening to some of their music.
- I play computer games with them.
- Watch their sport or activities, trying to be supportive.
- Watch their favourite TV shows with them sometimes - without being too critical.
- Try sharing something about my work or my interests as I would with an adult friend.
- Share something about my own adolescence (without preaching!) and share a laugh with them about how things have changed.
- Once in a while we take them to a movie that we would both like (or go to one of theirs and talk about it.)
Fifth, We listen to them, having an open communication at all times.
- Freedom of speech is a house rule, my husband and I let our children say what’s on their mind, we listen to their reasoning whenever they’ve done wrong and from there we will evaluate their logic if it is right or wrong then explanation follows.
Usually, when young people talk to parents they often get advice, reassurance or a sermon before they have had a chance to really say how they feel. This not only stops communication, it also stops teenagers finding their own ways to deal with problems.
Sixth, we show our love for them.
- Love needs to be continually shown in order to be felt. We tell our children often that we love them (when the time seems right).
- As their Mom, I show my love by touching and hugging and preparing the things they need personally. Their Dad shows his love by providing what they need, driving them to school, and at times fetching them from school, spending time with them talking about "boy's talk".
- Buy their favourite food sometimes.
- Buy something on a shopping trip that says “I was thinking about you”.
- Go out of my way to help them with special projects.
- Pick them up from outings on the other side of town.
Seventh, We make special memories. Doing special things together can have lasting effects.
- Sometimes we take one of their friends on holiday with us.
- Take the family to a special show we would not usually go to. Like concerts for instance.
- Create traditions that are special to our family, e.g. a special way that we always celebrate birthdays.
- We have this collection of photographs of family and friends, over their childhood and growing up years, we hang them on a wall and keep an album of it.
Eighth, we have faith in them
- We let them know they are special
- Ask their advice about something they know a lot about, e.g. how to program the DVD player.
- We display their photographs and crafts.
- If they make mistakes, we have faith that they will do better next time. We emphasized that they are responsible for their actions.
I firmly believe in the saying, “you reap what you sow”, everything that happens to you is a result of your own actions. My eldest son JM posted this in my facebook wall on my birthday last January 4, 2011. My youngest son Yahmir was well-behaved on that day (lol) and expressed his love by giving me a tight hug while saying “Happy Birthday Mom, I love you”