“Today I shouted at Mom. I didn’t like it. But it is becoming impossible to talk to her. All she does is preach and advise. Dad is ditto. That’s why I prefer to hide things from them rather discuss and hear a long lecture. I wonder when they will begin to see that I have a mind of my own and this is my life. But I also wish they could help me understand and clear all the confusions I am going through. But I don’t want to risk my freedom for that.
Life was so much simpler earlier. Now I have to work hard to get marks, have to think about the future. All these changes in my body make me look so weird. It is easier to be with friends but at times they are the cause of my confusion. I have wished all this while to grow up but now I feel childhood was so much more fun…”
– From Diary of an adolescent girl Arushi
This excerpt more or less explains the dilemma every teenager goes through. A typical teenager’s life revolves around his friends and inside his room, the doors of which are shut for the parents! And parents are always sitting outside waiting for the door to open, to be assured that all is well with their child, to extend support wherever they can. The question is how to get past that door?
If your daughter tells you she has been on a date with her boyfriend or your son tells you that he tried a beer with friends after school, is it a good or a bad news?
When adolescents come and share their ‘experiments’, ‘thrills’, ‘encounters’, ‘issues’, no matter how grave they are- it is a good news for the parents. Till your child doesn’t share with you his world, how can you possibly ever be of any help to him? So listen to them without any judgment. It is not easy, as the protective parent in you will overpower you again and again. But the moment you preach and start talking about morals and values, your child will run away from you.
Remember you have been through this confusion yourself as a teenager. All you needed at that time was someone who could understand you. Just be understanding, that’s the best way to sail through the storm of adolescence with your child.
What is an adolescent going through?
· Physical and sexual changes
· Identity crisis
· Pressure to get good marks and plan future
· Pressure to fit in the peer group
· Development of values and thoughts
What adolescents need from parents?
They need ‘listening’, without judgments and reactions
What they don’t need from parents?
What adolescents don’t know about parents?
Parents may not be the ‘coolest’ friend, but certainly the most reliable one in the whole world!
How can you be a support to your adolescent child?
· Listen and acknowledge their feelings, never moralize or deny them.
· Share anecdotes and stories from your teenage life, he/she will feel you have also grown up like a ‘normal’ adolescent
· Don’t make decisions; empower them to reach a conclusion.
· Don’t take their ‘No’ as a sign of disrespect; they are simply discovering their mind.
· Assure them, you will be there no matter what ‘wrong’ they do