Surely, every phase in our children’s development is challenging and each experience unique. Despite the early difficulties parents encounter during the first decade of their child’s life, they are still largely in control. At this age, the child is busy observing, internalising values and expectations, and wanting to please. However, these years are also crucial for the parents as they begin laying the foundations for their future relationship with the child. Parents are, therefore, advised to invest time in building a good rapport with their children from a tender age: a relationship of mutual trust and respect and above all, of relative independence.
Sooner rather than later, children start demanding more freedom. And before we know it, the time has already come for our child to start breaking away from the family mould to assert himself or herself as an individual. This phase is certainly intense, causing anxiety to both parents and children, alike. Parents generally have a negative perception of the rebellious teenage years, based on what they hear and see happening around them. On the other hand, they must not forget that during adolescence their children are going through a period of rapid growth physically, emotionally and socially.
Objectively speaking, this is a very taxing time but with a few key preparations, parents can make this transition smoother both for themselves, as well as for their children. Puberty does not just happen overnight: it is a natural process and it is our duty to facilitate matters for our children and to guide them through it.
There will inevitably be conflicts between parents and their teenagers. They will both experience uncertainty and turbulence, but it can and should also be a very exciting time for our children – an intense period of great discovery about themselves, as well as about the world around them.
Adolescents will experience many disappointments, they will be hurt, they will make mistakes, but that is all part of growing up. Much as we would like to interfere, in order to keep them safe from all things negative, at this stage we must stand aside and let them struggle to come out of their cocoon. All we can do at this stage, is to be vigilant that they do not endanger themselves or those around them. As parents, we must be there to give our full support and our unconditional love, when and as often as may be required.
This challenging time will pass, and our efforts as parents will eventually pay off. In the coming weeks, I shall delve deeper into subjects related to parenting teens.