“How this son hurts.” It is what a mother told me during therapy, in relation to what she was living in front of her son’s adolescence. And this is not an isolated case, we often hear the complaint of parents sometimes surprised, sometimes disillusioned and in most cases not knowing how to act before those who were before their children and now are young silent, rebellious, angry , Questioners, who challenge us, and even sometimes see us as the enemy.
Rebel teens is a complicated stage and as parents it is normal that we can see a little overwhelmed. Although we have read about the subject, and despite putting the best of efforts to inform us, when the time comes when our son is a teenager we may suffer anxiety when facing this new situation.
Rebel Teens: A Guide for Troubled Parents
As a result of the workshops I have given to parents, I have been able to collect some concepts that I hope will be useful. The focus is on what we can do, what is in our hands, not complaining about their attitudes and trying to change them, which only brings frustration, because no one can change the other overnight.
On the other hand, if I transform my attitudes and become more conscious, I am taking the first step. I clarify that this does not mean abandoning the limits and consequences that are necessary and would be the subject of another reflection.
Six tips for improving communication with teenage children
To try to provide useful tools to parents who have problems living with their teenager, I propose a series of points that will allow us to lay the foundations for better communication and interaction with them.
1. Unbind my personal story from yours
As parents, we must be able to unlink our personal history from our teenage son, unlinking what is ours from what is his, thus avoiding to carry with you an added backpack. It is vital that we understand it as it is and that we take responsibility for our own life, and let it go its way. As parents we must try to make it easier for the adolescent to develop his life independently and living his own experiences. This will make you learn for yourself and adapt better to the social environment. It is not necessary, therefore, that as parents we add anxiety or fears to the children.
2. Avoid comparing yourself to others
Another essential point. Our teenage son has the right to walk his way in life according to his preferences and his own decisions, and parents must support and respect him to be able to successfully address his own experiences. Putting labels on your personal preferences or comparing them with other people not only does not stimulate you to improve, but can also put a heavy burden on your self-concept. We must be able to make a constant effort to respect their way of being, even in the case that as parents we think their attitude is not the most appropriate. Of course, this does not mean that our child resembles another person, constantly comparing him with that high school classmate, or any other reflection that may undermine his self-esteem.
3. I understand your patterns of socialization
This is where our capacity as parents comes in to show us both flexible and positive. As long as our child shows respectful and cordial behavior, we do not need to pressure him or her to socialize based on our standards or those of the immediate environment. Parents who are constantly preoccupied with whether their children “let them down” in front of other people simply act on rigid and conventional parameters of socialization. To show our son that we care much what they think of us (through his attitude, for more inri) is a way to convey that we feel ashamed of him. Fighting to act as we want to act alone will cause the relationship to wear out and so that the adolescent fails to adapt freely to the social environment.
4. Beware of the idea of “let him accomplish what I did not do”
Our personal expectations regarding what we want our teenager to be in the future can be very limiting for their personal development. We must understand what our true motivations are for the future of our child, and from there decide how demanding we should be with him. In any case, we must prevent the weight of our expectations and desires. Our wishes and reflections about what we have achieved in life or what we want to achieve are personal and not transferable, and it is not correct that we transfer these desires to our children. They must go their own way and strive for their goals.
5. Everyone must learn from their mistakes
Most parents are not able to recognize that we feel validated and qualified through our children. And, admittedly, it is the first step to understanding many things and improving our relationship with them. If our son is wrong, he must assume its consequences, even if that hurts and we feel obliged to help him. We will always be there to give them the necessary support, but the children need us to give them the necessary space to make these mistakes that will allow them to learn, become aware of their responsibilities in life and mature.
6. Emotions should not boycott me
Self-observation should be a fundamental pillar in our reflection on the attitudes and measures we take as parents. We must try to see a little beyond the tangible and identify our emotions and feelings. In this way, when we feel blocked or distressed, we can reflect and detect what we are feeling, and how to manage that emotion. Making self-observation a habit in our daily lives is especially useful in interacting with adolescent children, especially to identify when they put us to the test and show an assertive and relaxed attitude, and therefore control the situation. In this way we can act in the way we think is more accurate and necessary, and not from reactivity or from anger.
To conclude …
I hope that these little tips and reflections can be useful in understanding the adolescence of our children as a process necessary for their development at all levels. A process, that of adolescence, that we must accompany in an intelligent way. We must understand that adolescents need to detach from parental protection and begin to be independent to become, in the near future, responsible adults and their own goals in life.