Managing Today’s Teens – a Mother’s Learnings

By Geetanjali Padoshi

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Mother, why can’t you understand ? I am not arguing , merely stating my point of view.

You would never understand the issues we Gen Z youngsters face.

Parents would never realize the peer pressure we have to endure.

Aren’t these some familiar dialogues heard in homes where teenagers reside? The language and tone might be different, the message is the same. Teenagers feel that they and their parents are at the opposite ends of the continuum when it comes to managing in today’ s world.

The teenage years can be a test of relations for both the kids and the parents. Adolescence is a period of rapid physical, emotional, and social changes, which can sometimes lead to conflict and misunderstandings within the parent-child relationship. As the mother of a teenager I often face challenging situations where I have to adopt innovative methods to come to a consensus. So let me share my strategies that helped me foster a better and so to say a “HEP” or “COOL” relation with my ever demanding teenage daughter.

  1. Communication is the key: Establishing open lines of communication is crucial during the teenage years. My personal experiences made me realize that most of the time all that the child wants is a patient listener. They need someone who would make them feel that their thoughts, opinions and views matter. That the listener won’t judge right away. Being such a listener would foster trust and strengthen the bond.
  2. Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations: In this age the rebellion mode is at its peak. Most of the things asked of or told to them are met with resistance or reasons of why they should not be done. While the child fathoms that he / she has become a know it all, they still need our guidance and support. They must be made to realize that freedom to do certain things does not mean abdicating all responsibilities. Be it helping with household chores or maintaining one’s room , clear communication of the same would help them realize their rights and responsibilities. It would be advisable to set these things by involving them from the beginning. This gives them a sense of ownership and choosing tasks that they would love, thus making things easier for all.
  3. Choosing to let go: We might not agree to many things that today’s generation yearns for. Being the elder in the relationship, it’s prudent that we let things go and have them their way at times. A small acceptance of their attitude or activity goes a long way in fostering a cordial bond.
  4. Empathy is the way: It plays a pivotal role in understanding and connecting with your teenager. Do not make them feel that their opinions do not matter. Acknowledge their emotions, validate their experiences, and try to see situations from their perspective. Empathy fosters mutual respect and helps build a supportive relationship. A simple experience of me showing a positive attitude towards my daughter’s current music interests brought me into the category of cool moms that are ready to learn from their kids. Going further I did realize that while I was not aware of the genre of music enjoyed by her, it was indeed refreshing.
  5. Bolster their self esteem by assigning tasks : Today’s teens possess great skills, knowledge and are exposed to multitude of technologies as compared to our times. We must ensure that we instill confidence in them about using these to carry out tasks successfully. This would boost their self esteem and make them develop a positive attitude about self. They need opportunities to develop their independence and take on responsibilities. We must be the facilitators for it.
  6. Discussion is the way forward: Involve them in day to day issues and seek solutions from them. This works two ways. It makes them aware of issues faced by the family and they actively seek to mitigate it thus making positive contributions.
  7. Acknowledge that they need their space : They may have differing opinions and desires from us. Many times all they want is to be left alone while they deal with their issues. Give them their space and time. This allows them to trust you. Eventually they seek your guidance if they are unable to sort out their issues. Do not become a helicopter parent and dent their space.
  8. Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Adolescence can be a stressful time, and teenagers may experiment with various coping mechanisms. Encourage healthy outlets such as engaging in physical activities, pursuing hobbies, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from trusted friends, mentors, or counselors.
  9. What you are, makes them seek what they want to be : Our behavior and attitudes significantly influence our teenager’s development. Pursue and practice the values and behaviors you want to see in them, such as effective communication, emotional regulation, and respectful relationships. Show them that you are continuously learning and growing as well.

Coping with teenage kids is easier said than done. It requires you to be patient, understanding and open -minded. You may face hurdles, rebellion, frustration, kids being incommunicado and much more. Yet, I have learnt that it’s just a phase. A phase, where kids enter in a completely new space torn between the desire to be completely independent yet looking over their shoulders to ensure that the parents are around if they need them.

Although I have identified the above learnings, I myself at times am unable to follow them. It’s still a learning curve for me too as a parent. However, I am sure of one responsibility towards my teenage daughter – to be there for her no matter what.

Let us help them discover this world, let us help them tread this path of teenage phase by being present and offer our support when they seek it. Let us ride along with them and discover their world by letting go of some of our inhibitions. Let us trust our upbringing and help them spread their wings to face their adult life in a few years time with confidence and positivity.

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