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Parents of Teens: Are You Doing More Harm Than Good?

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If you’re a parent of a teenager, it’s hard to find a parenting style that actually works. These years with your child can be tough. Panic not, Annique has some advice for you.

I’ve got good news and bad news. Alrighty, then, let’s cut to the chase and start with the bad. The thick, heavy, 2000-page parenting manual for teens you wish existed – doesn’t. The good news is that you aren’t alone on this roller-coaster ride. Like you, many parents are also currently trying to rear their teenage breed.[/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2=”SUGGESTED” h2_font_container=”font_size:12|line_height:1″ h2_use_theme_fonts=”yes” h4=”5 Tips to Cope with your Child’s Failure” h4_font_container=”font_size:20|color:%23f1626e|line_height:2″ h4_google_fonts=”font_family:ABeeZee%3Aregular%2Citalic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” el_width=”xs” add_button=”right” btn_title=”Read more” btn_style=”outline-custom” btn_outline_custom_color=”#ae4768″ btn_outline_custom_hover_background=”#323b4b” btn_outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” btn_align=”center” btn_i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-chevron-right” use_custom_fonts_h2=”true” use_custom_fonts_h4=”true” btn_add_icon=”true” btn_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Feduconnect.co.za%2F5-tips-to-cope-with-your-childs-failure%2F||target:%20_blank|” css=”.vc_custom_1529057173852{border-top-width: 2px !important;border-right-width: 2px !important;border-bottom-width: 2px !important;border-left-width: 2px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;border-left-color: #ae4768 !important;border-right-color: #ae4768 !important;border-top-color: #ae4768 !important;border-bottom-color: #ae4768 !important;border-radius: 5px !important;}”][/vc_cta][vc_column_text]I guess most parents face similar questions… most of which comes down to the basic ponderings of, “Will they be alright?”. At the end of the day, parents want to go to sleep each night knowing that their teenagers are equipped to survive out there in the wilderness of planet Earth and its perilous society.

The Dreaded Teens

When your kid becomes a teenager, you may start feeling increased parental anxiety. Those baby-playpen days are long gone, and your teen is out there, exploring. Oh yes, exploring it all… tongues, substances, attitudes, fashion styles, new company. Just like you did back in the day. Sorry. This is the brutal truth.

I, myself, was a very bothersome and secretive teenager, informing my parents about little more than… zilch. Yes, a typical teenager. I didn’t communicate or interact much and had a handful of emotional struggles to deal with. Basically, I gave my parents a really hard time.

Now I’m not a parent myself yet, and the ideas I’m about to layout are, of course, not applicable to every situation. However, if you’re a parent dealing with a difficult teenager, the following thoughts, as seen from a teen’s perspective, may interest you.[/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2=”RELATED ARTICLE” h2_font_container=”font_size:12|line_height:1″ h2_use_theme_fonts=”yes” h4=”We are Creatures of Habit, and your High Schooler is no Exception” h4_font_container=”font_size:20|color:%23f1626e|line_height:2″ h4_google_fonts=”font_family:ABeeZee%3Aregular%2Citalic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” el_width=”sm” add_button=”right” btn_title=”Read more” btn_style=”outline-custom” btn_outline_custom_color=”#ae4768″ btn_outline_custom_hover_background=”#323b4b” btn_outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” btn_align=”center” btn_i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-chevron-right” use_custom_fonts_h2=”true” use_custom_fonts_h4=”true” btn_add_icon=”true” btn_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Feduconnect.co.za%2Fcreatures-habit-high-schooler-exception%2F||target:%20_blank|” css=”.vc_custom_1529057214768{border-top-width: 2px !important;border-right-width: 2px !important;border-bottom-width: 2px !important;border-left-width: 2px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;border-left-color: #ae4768 !important;border-right-color: #ae4768 !important;border-top-color: #ae4768 !important;border-bottom-color: #ae4768 !important;border-radius: 5px !important;}”][/vc_cta][vc_column_text]

Are You Getting it Wrong?

There are some typical teenage shenanigans parents have to deal with. Sometimes, it’s difficult to actually know how to. Believe it or not, the tactics you implement aren’t always the best option.

Here are 3 typical, well-intentioned parenting approaches you might be using on your teen. These may actually be doing more harm than good.

Check out my 2cents on these:

1. Preaching & Nagging

Needless to say, it’s very important that you educate your teen on how to steer clear of all the dangers out there. Especially with the added danger of our cyber age. But continuously preaching to your teen like a nervous chicken, ain’t the way to go.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How it can do more harm than good:

Continuous preaching about the same things can actually influence your teen do the exact thing you are trying to prevent. If your teen is angry, frustrated, or feeling particularly rebellious, chances are they will do the very thing they know will push your buttons. The more you preach about the same issue, the more likely it will enter your teen’s one ear and fly out the other.

What can you try instead?

  • First of all, lead by example, always. Your behaviour influences them directly. If you get drunk or have a spliff in front of your teen, you’re really not in a good position to tell them it’s bad.
  • Secondly, sometimes one good, serious conversation tends to have a greater impact than repetitive preaching. It took my mom one very lengthy announcement to warn us that if we ever bullied anyone, there’d be some serious bliksem.
  • A third tactic that can work really well is passive preaching… leaving hints or sending clear messages. When I was 16, my mom once found a vodka bottle in the bag I was taking to a house party (ironically, that bottle wasn’t mine). She left me a note next to it saying, “Is this what it takes to be cool?” (classic).
  • Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult tactic: let go. Let your teen screw up. Those light bulb moments like “Getting wasted at a house party is neither safe, nor healthy” don’t happen from listening to nagging, but from experience. As Mark Gregston writes in his article,

“The point is, teens, learn best by making mistakes and suffering a bit from the consequences. They remember the lessons when there are consequences because they are then able to figure it out for themselves.”

2.  Getting them to Open Up

This one is so personal. You simply have to know your teen’s personality and respect their boundaries. Some teens open up very easily and willingly, even sharing intimate details with you. Others won’t open up about anything. As a teen, my personal boundary was made of concrete bricks. Even a ‘good morning’ already felt like an intrusion in my life.



How it can do more harm than good:

Constantly trying to get your teen to open up will probably result in them closing up more. Nobody, at any age really, wants to feel forced to talk about their feelings. Teen feelings and emotions are already so charged that they, themselves, often aren’t sure what’s going on inside.

What can you try instead?

If your teen is of the withdrawn, closed type, my advice to you is the following: make sure that they know they can always come to you. If you see they are sad or upset, ask them what’s wrong, so they know you are concerned but don’t force anything. Wait for them to come to you.

Also, remember that everyone has a different way of asking for help. Know your teen and pay attention to their needs. Sometimes they may want to open up but don’t know how. But it’s important for you to respect their boundaries and not insist (unless in serious cases, of course).

3. Asking About Their Future Plans

This one is tricky too because it’s almost unavoidable. Once they get to Grade 9, teens already have to start thinking about the future. They have to make decisions about subject choices, possible universities etc. This is heavy shizz. And you, as worried parents, sometimes end up putting a lot of pressure on your teens, which can make them feel more confused and anxious.

How it can do more harm than good:

Think about it, apart from having to figure out what they want to do and be in life (which, by the way, most adults are still figuring out themselves), they have to deal with the pressure of making their family proud. Many youngsters end up making choices they know will please their parents, instead of taking some more time to figure out what it is they really want. And to be a teenager in this era, with so many choices, not knowing what you want in the future is completely normal. 

What can you do instead?

Show your teen that you acknowledge their decision-making abilities, but that you are there to help them make their important decisions. Support your child’s passions and trust that if they follow their heart and talents, they will be okay. There is no point in convincing your child of how amazing a doctor’s salary is when your teenager dreams of being a social worker. Discuss your ideas and advise your teen as best you can, but don’t expect them to map out their whole future.

Okay, folks. So much for my little insights. Take from it, what you think may work. Remember that teenagers are walking bundles of confused hormones and that even the toughest of teens usually come around 😉

EduConnect 2Cents

If you’re a parent of a teenager and have any useful tips for your compatriots out there, please tell us what has worked well for you and your teenager! We’d love to hear some practical advice from a parent’s point of view 🙂[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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