The messy, cluttered room with clothes strewn around is the stereotype of a teenager’s room. Sometimes they roll they eyes at you, and speak through clenched teeth as though you are their worst enemy. At other times they retreat into their shell, not speaking or smiling, listening to some music that you cannot hear because they are using ear phones.
Welcome to being parents of teens.
Well, raising a teenager is not easy. Of course, not all teenagers fit the stereotype or are this extreme. But as every mother and father of a teen son or daughter knows, raising them is not easy. The question is how can it be made tolerable? Are there ways to make it easier?
Teenagers in particular hate whining and nagging parents. Messy rooms and rebellious fashion choices may drive parents to lose their cool, but mentioning this day in and day out can drive your teenager farther away from you. Parents need to learn to pick their battles. Some of the typical teen behaviors, especially those that do not hurt anyone or disrespect anyone, can be ignored. However, parents have to intervene when bigger issues are at stake, like hanging out with the wrong crowd, or sleeping over at some place you don’t know.
If your circumstances allow, a teenager should be given her own room. It is important for them to have their space. Having said that, it is not a good idea for them to lock themselves in day and night. There is no need for your daughter to lock the door, if she knows that anyone who wants to enter her room will knock before they enter. In fact, we all should learn to knock on our children’s door before we enter. It teaches them basic manners.
There are mother – daughter pairs who are almost always fighting because the mother does not approve of what the daughter wears. This is a sensitive issue, given that mothers typically belong to an older generation and are more worried about what the ‘society’ will think, whereas the daughter is on a mission to assert her own identity. A way out is to reach a compromise as to how much skin is shown, how much of a hippie look is allowed without looking like a gangster etc. Once ground rules are agreed upon, boys and girls should be let free to choose their clothes. However, teach your children that there are certain occasions like a visit to grandmother’s house, or a church etc, where one is expected to observe some decorum in clothes. In short, teach your children to be discerning and sensible.
Don’t ever shout at a teenager in public. Don’t ever humiliate them in public or in front of their friends. If you need to correct your son or daughter, let it be done in private. The growing teen’s self –concept is very fragile; the ego is as fragile as a crystal ball ready to break at the slightest provocation. Teenagers are sensitive to very harmless remarks about their appearance. Many teens are worried that they are obese, and sometimes go on extreme dieting. In fact, eating disorders are often caused by an unrealistic self-image that is often endorsed by parents and friends. According to statistics, 5.4% of children between 13 and 18 will suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. That is approximately more than 2.2 million adolescents.
All mothers would agree that teens love food. In fact, though they are worried about their body image, they have a voracious appetite for tasty and healthy food. It is the chance for mothers and fathers to be heroes in the eyes of their children, if they can cook the tastiest and healthiest food available in town.
Finally, one word about the family environment. Teens go through a hormonal roller-coaster ride, and they look for stability and security at home. Parents should be able to provide a solid, stable and secure home for them. This, by far, is the most important aspect in raising a rebellious teenager.