Do Your Teen’s Dreams Stress You Out? How to Remain Positive & Supportive
You’ve certainly heard all the clichés about parenting teens. You’ve also probably realized that some clichés list for a reason. Being a supportive parent to a teenager is a balancing act of the highest order. Yes, some of the same guidelines from their pre-teen years hold true (see below). However, there will obviously be a need for a few adjustments (see below that).
How your teen lives their life can confuse you. It can stress you out. This is where the balancing act comes into play. You have the right to your opinions and so do they. But you also have the obligation of looking out for them.
What Supportive Parenting Looks Like
Put your own anxieties and issues aside. Learn to listen and to truly hear your child. They may feel like an extension of you but they inhabit their own world. Be curious. Listen carefully to learn as much as possible about that world. Be open to learning from them. Also, recognize that sometimes listening is precisely what your teen needs. You don’t have to “fix” everything.
Prioritize your children. Make time to be with them. Find activities you enjoy doing together but do not force your way into their world. This almost always backfires.
Your teen will experience highs and lows. Separate yourself from these moments. Each up or down is not a referendum on your parenting skills. It’s also essential for your teen to recognize that their parents are able to navigate life in a healthy manner.
Wise Decisions: How to Support a Teenager Well
Take a Step Back
When your kids are young, you basically make their decisions for them. By adolescence and certainly in their teen years, they need you more as a coach of sorts. They are learning to manage their own lives. Even if their plans or dreams run counter to your wishes, you must treat them with respect. Find the balance between not interfering and not being overly permissive. That balance will probably shift on a daily basis. Be prepared to do the daily work.
Have Tough Conversations
Topics like sex, money, peer pressure, drugs, screen time, career plans, and so on can feel like a tinder box. Your teen’s hormones are often raging and you will encounter some strong emotions. This cannot prevent you from holding space for such discussions. Hone your listening skills and check your body language.
Your teen will make mistakes. They will fail. And they may blame you for it all. What they need most in those moments is your calm presence. They need to know that, no matter what, you’re ready to bear down have the tough conversations.
Shift Your Style
Your teen will sometimes act like a child yet demand that they be treated like an adult. You are charged with a challenging task. You want and need to influence your child. But you must find the mode of communication that makes them feel respected. Therefore, even in your most frustrating moments, talk to them as you would talk to an adult you admire. Doing this also empowers you because if they feel like you’re nagging or butting in, they will shut down and tune out.
There is No How-To Manual
If you feel frazzled, angry, hopeless, and lost at times, take heart. Every parent of a teen goes through such feelings. There is no foolproof blueprint. Perhaps the best thing you can do is get your own version of guidance and support. Working with a skilled therapist is an excellent way to work through all these challenging experiences. Both you and your teen will benefit from parent coaching or teen counseling, please reach out soon.