Parenting teenagers is a rollercoaster experience with it's many exciting moments as well challenging moments. "Teens Are People, Too" (even when it seems like they've morphed into green-eyed monsters).
Although it should be self-evident that parents and their teenaged children are both human beings, that truth is often lost during the transition from childhood to adulthood. They remain bound together by love, yet flooded with ambivilence.
"Who ARE you, and what have you done with my son/daughter?!"
"Why do they treat me like a child? They just don't get me."
Buckle your seatbelt.
Even in the best of circumstances, parenting teenagers is going to be a bumpy ride. But, don't panic. Don't despair. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, provided everyone is allowed to do their job. And, what exactly is that?
For parents of kids of any age, one of the biggest challenges is to prepare them for life, while protecting them at the same time. As babies and young children, the focus is more on protecting them from harm. As they grow a bit older, that focus is more divided.
Parents of teens are acutely aware of all of the possible consequences (many of them dire and permanent) of what may fall within the range of normal teenage behavior. We have, after all, been teenagers ourselves.
Every one of us can remember classmates, neighbors and friends who suffered the consequences of their own poor choices. Some of us may even remember our own reckless choices and behavior. We remember the mistakes that our parents made in raising us, and we silently vow to do things differently and better.
A lot of us want to do a 'perfect' job of raising 'perfect' kids. However, no such thing exists. Neither your parenting nor your teenager will perform flawlessly. It doesn't have to be perfect. Each of us can survive with our relationship intact by doing a 'good enough' job.
Every parent will make some mistakes. In addition, every teenager will (just by nature of being a teenager) do stupid stuff. Hopefully, they will only do a little bit of stupid stuff, the kind that does not have disastrous consequences. It's okay to discuss this honestly and directly.
You and your teenager are entering a complicated transition, and at times you will seem to be working at cross purposes. However, that it is only an illusion because you are all working toward the same goal.
You are players on the same team, each with your own job to do. With effort and insight, you can diffuse unnecessary tension and squabbling. There are steps that you may take to survive these tumultuous years with your relationship intact.
Eventually, the day arrives to let go and allow your teenaged son or daughter to fend for themselves. Sure, there will be times when they may seek your opinion or advice. However, they now hold the key to a future of their own design. They must go out and live their lives, not yours.
You can't control the outcome. In truth, you never could. Over time and with maturity, there may be a relationship of less angst and more pride, less pushing away and more reaching out.
It is some very much delayed gratification to be sure. But it's well worth the effort and the wait.
As a CTA Certified coach with a background in Ericksonian therapy, human needs psychology, general psychology and strategic intervention, and a mother, I understand how difficult it these times can be. Contact me for a consultation... we will work through those challenges together, to help your rebellious and troubled teens, and restore the happiness in your home.