A common concern of parents regardless of the age of their children is a dread of the inevitable teen years. I always cringe a bit when I hear the depth of the worry and fear expressed...as if it is a given that all teenagers will become completely unraveled and ruin their lives forever. This mindset is not healthy nor is it necessary. But mostly it is not fair to teenagers.
I am not discounting that there are in fact teenagers who do make poor life-changing choices just as there are teenagers who react and rebel to the point of creating complete chaos in their families. However, to anticipate a rough and rocky road is setting yourself up for a negative experience. What we think and focus on will become our reality!
Are you Prepared for the teenage years?
The truth is preparing for a smooth teenage experience with your child begins as soon as they are born. Parenting is a process of creating layers through each developmental stage complimenting each other and growing out of what has already been mastered. We have all heard the saying, "You can't run until you learn to walk". It is this same with the emotional growth our children go through. And it is the pattern that is used to build the type of relationship with your children that will see you through the teenage years and all of the bumps and detours during this time in your child's life.
You can't raise children having never established healthy communication skills and then expect them to open up and share all of their thoughts and feelings when they reach the teen years. Developing this kind of open communication bond begins at a very early age. Just as you can't be a micro-managing parent making all their choices and decisions for them and then when they reach the teen years expect them to have the skills to make good choices on their own. Again, these decision making skills need to be implemented throughout each of their developmental stages by allowing them the opportunity to make age-appropriate choices.
The good news is that although it is best that you begin when they are very young, it is NEVER too late to begin implementing healthy and positive communication, problem solving and relationship skills and tools.
In my program, The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula, I address skills and strategies to incorporate at every level of development and discuss ways to bridge the gaps that appear. It is every parents wish that this time is smooth and positive for both their child and themselves. But we must consider several things that will play a key role in determining the success of your child's teen experience. There are many variables that come into play when your child becomes a teenager...
1. Their personality type.
2. Their communication skills.
3. Their relationship with their family and their parents.
4. Their self-esteem.
5. Their self-image.
There are also many things parents can actively do to positively impact their child's journey through this time that I refer to as their "transition years". What so many parents dread is a very normal and natural process where your child is transitioning from being dependent upon you to becoming independent from you.
A typical experience of the unprepared parent...
Imagine if you will…You have spent more than a decade raising your child to be loving, caring, honest and trustworthy and from your perspective you have built a strong relationship between you.
And then one day you notice a divide occurring.
Maybe you don’t talk as much as you once did. After all life has become so busy with their schooling and after school activities and sports…But there seems to be a breakdown in communication even when you do talk it is now reduced to short one word answers that are often accompanied by a tone that you have never heard before.
Where there was once constant open dialogue there are now secretive isolated actions. You begin to feel uneasy. When you reach out to your child in an effort to find out what is “wrong”, you are met with responses like “nothing” or “I don’t know” or my all time favorite “whatever”! If you press on more often than not you encounter a push-back attitude that leaves you wondering just who this person is and where is your child?
Now you are in full panic mode so you proceed to make the BIGGEST mistake parents of teens can make…you push harder! And this is how the battle of the teen years begins!
Whether your child is a toddler, closing in on the teen years or already a teenager, you hold the power to direct the dynamics of your relationship!
These tips are designed to prepare you for a successful journey through your child’s teenage years and maintain the bond that was established in the first 10 or so years of their life.
- Do not buy into the generalization that all teens become monsters. It is important to remember we live in a universe of attraction and what you focus on and put your energy on is what becomes your reality. Envision what you do want!
- Don’t panic and feel as though this is the end of your relationship with them, see this time as a time of transition for them that they will get through. Remind yourself that the teen years are another stage of development each one of us goes through, just as learning to walk without holding your hand was or learning to be responsible for their grades in school. The teen years are natural and important and as the saying goes… "This too shall pass!"
Too often parents feel a sense of loss because of the distance that can occur in their relationship and fear they are losing their child. Often the shift in their child’s attitude and behavior appears suddenly and catches you off guard. When you take the time to prepare your parenting mindset for this time of transition you will be able to adjust your role in their lives in a way that will keep you off of the emotional roller coaster that is common during the teen years.