As parents, we can all relate to those awkward and sometimes excruciating teenage years! What they tell us are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives are often fraught with emotional baggage and heart-wrenching scenarios. If you happened to sail through these years without a scratch, then well done to you. However, I feel it safe to say that with much certainty that we all struggled with some form of angst during our own teenage years.
As an adult, it can be ever so easy to forget how troubling our teenage years were, especially when we become parents and find ourselves with huge responsibilities and a need to live in the now, rather than reminisce on the past. For most of us who would rather forget those years where we struggled to transition from child to adult, it is indeed something we would prefer not to recall once again in front of our children.
However, I do believe that by refusing to acknowledge what it was like as a teenager ourselves, makes it more difficult to relate to our own children when they eventually hit those teenage years.
Utilizing Our Experience to Communicate with Our Teenagers
How many times have your teenagers fallen in love only to have their heart broken? How many times have you listened to your teenager daughter tell you she’s not enough or your teenage son say he doesn’t feel part of the crowd? And how many times have your teenagers fallen out with their friends? Yet, what is usually your reaction as a parent to these recurring events?
For many parents, some of the experiences their teenagers go through makes them laugh, and they coin a phrase such as you’re just a kid, you’ll get over it. Or even, you think it’s bad now, wait until you’re in the real world! While I understand that hard as they sound, these words usually mean nothing more than the parent letting the teenager know, as best as they can, that it is indeed not the end of life as they see it. But, sometimes I feel we could all approach our teenagers in a slightly different manner than what we currently do.
Remembering We Were Teenagers Too, Once Upon a Time…
To communicate more efficiently with our teenagers, we must delve into that part of our own history when we were once teenagers. Though hard for some of us, it did happen to us all! I say this because for me personally, I remember having my heart broken for the first time and I have never forgotten that feeling of being made to feel ugly by a select few of my peers. Basically, I remember how soul-crushing and confidence-destroying that time was, and yes, it did feel like the end of the world at that point. So, when I hear teenagers struggling with similar incidents I only need to recollect my experiences, and I am immediately back there!
Altering Our Reactions to Our Younger Generation
I am not saying that we as adults start sympathizing with every single experience that a teenager goes through. I mean, the snowflake generation concept is all too familiar as it is already! What I’m suggesting is that when our teenagers do go through these tough times, which they will do in vast amounts, that we take a minute or two out to try and understand where they are coming from.
Of course, they will get over that heartbreak, and they will also find new friends entirely that differ in every way but from their current friendship groups. But they do not know that now. With a teenager, what matters is right now. But, as parents we can sympathize with them and just listen, making their troubles seem valid rather than a mere blip that will pass in the next day or two. Because that’s what most teenagers want, somebody to recognize that they are indeed hurting and accept it for what it is. As parents, having been through it all before, it shouldn’t therefore really be that hard to give them this.
Give Your Teenagers Your Time, Rather Than Money
I know, as funny as that sounds when I write it this is so important if you are to develop that bond and work with your teenager rather than both of you working against each other during the turbulent teenage years. Though it may seem to many parents that the last thing a teenager would want to do is to spend time with their annoying elderly parents, sometimes it is the one thing they crave!
How many times do you spend, just yourself and your teenage son or daughter, as one to one? Life is hectic no matter who you are or where you live – and none more so when it involves teenagers in the family. Yet, sometimes if you are to open a line of communication with your teenager, all it takes is half an hour a couple of times a week whereby they can talk readily about anything that is on their mind.
Why not meet for a coffee every week, pick up a snack and sit in the car and eat together, or even make one night a cooking night whereby just you and they cook a meal from scratch together and then sit down to talk over it afterward?
Yes, they may seem an alien race to us adults at the best of times, but our teenagers are just trying to make it through these awkward years as best as possible. Don’t we owe it to them to offer our own expertise along the way?