Connect with Your Teenage Kids
Every teenager goes through Adolescence, a period of confusion trying to identify if (s)he is a kid or an adult. This is the period where (s)he requires encouragement, understanding and guidance from parents. It is not only a metamorphosis to children but also to the parents who are quite used to thinking them as kids. Most of us forget that we too had gone through the same phase those days and the way we searched for our identity. Teenagers exhibit both behaviors; parents just cannot determine when they will act as a kid or as an adult.
The best way to help them in this phase is to take the role of a friend (no advice please) and listen to them without passing judgments. Their first confidante should be the parents. I know it is easy to say but difficult to follow, but when you do, it does work wonders to you and your child psyche. It gives you an opportunity to recollect your days as a teenager and makes you youthful thinking about all those little moments of togetherness and fun with friends. This also gets you to connect with your teenager and talk to them at their level and also subtly influence them into right way of approaching life. This is one of the crucial periods where they face issues much different from what they have seen in life till date. Remember, parents do serve as a reference and many times their actions and reactions are based on the values instilled in them by the family.
Few things that can work towards bridging the gap between the parents and the teenager
Keeping up with latest trends – Every teenager expects the parents to know what is happening in their world. If you do not know, listen to them with interest when they talk about it. This helps in understanding how the world of a teenager evolves and also helps when shopping or going out with them. Yes, our world was different and we were much better … but remember our parents too felt the same way when we were teenagers. We should try to bridge generation gaps and quit talking about how we were during our days. It just does not help. If you are the parent who hears ‘You just don’t understand’ very often, try this and you will see a difference. My daughter proudly declares to her friends that her mother can UNDERSTAND.
Spending Quality time together – When our kids are small, we frequent the school and get to know other parents and the level of bonding extends beyond children. Catching up in birthday parties, school functions were part of our life. It is a common complaint that teenagers do not have time for parents. It is parents who fail to understand and talk the language of the teenagers. It is no more fun, no more catching up with them, no activities together, common areas of sharing becomes next to nil. It is studies, academic performance that matters and any talk with them ends up in advice and advice all the way. Most of the teenagers today refuse to hear you when you get into advice mode. If you want them to listen, ensure quality time by connecting with them on common areas of interest and yes, go to a restaurant or movie of their interest even if you have no liking for it and who knows, it may be something we parents like too.
Learning to Give and Take Respect – We parents fail to connect with them and refuse to respect the individuality and personal likes and dislikes that have developed in them. If you are a parent complaining that ‘My Child Does Not Listen’, contemplate on your own self and the areas where you are pushing too hard. Give it a balanced view and you can see the areas where you react because your ego is hurt due to his/her demands and preferences (‘I am the one who bought everything for them till date and how come they refuse it today?’). Acknowledge the change, Respect, Encourage and give the Confidence that you Trust and this phase would develop a deep bonding and also a pleasurable one.