How I’m going to talk to my kids when they become teenagers is a thought most parents have since the kids were born. They change in front of our eyes, rebel, and become independent, wanting to spend less time with the family and more out with their friends. And if this is not enough, many start to drink, smoke, and experiment with drugs and sex. You remember; you were there a few years back.
But talking is only one component of the relationship you have with your kids. Try to see them as what they really are; children of God you have the privilege to raise, care for and guide as they find their way in the world. In that sense, your soul and theirs are equal, having different roles to play in life. Being aware of it you would raise them respecting who they are, bringing them to respect you and your role as their parent. Having relationship which is based on mutual respect is a key for healthy dialog with teens.
Seeing them as God’s children will also give us the patience and composure needed so much if we are to succeed in our role as parents. Remember that teenage rebellion is a normal part of their growth. We have the experience; they still need to accumulate it. Still, the parent is the mature one in the relationship, so even if they seemed unwilling to listen, make sure they know you are always there for them. It is important to remember that all that God is asking of you is to do your best, and that ultimately how each person ends up is between his or her soul and God.
Nurturing healthy relationships with kids from an early age will help you to survive the turmoil of the teenage rebellion. No one likes to hear orders al the time, and parents who constantly give them (“Because I said so”), will find it harder to deal with teenagers who are much less impressed by threats and punishments. So talk to them, open yourself and when possible explain your reasoning for making a new rule, or setting new restrictions. It is your home and your rule, but a wise leader lets everyone feel included.
You are the pillar of the family, and your kids don’t need you as their best friend. They even don’t need to love you; they need to respect you, and hopefully overtime they will come to admire the role you played in their lives. Hearing her saying, “You are the best parent in the world” because she got what she wanted would make you feel good, but is not a sign of a decision well made. Make what you consider to be the right decision and over time they will learn to respect you for it. Most people grow up to by like their parents, so while guiding them as teens; you are also showing them how to do the right thing as a parent later on.
There are many ways to raise teenagers, and the one you will adapt has a lot to do with how you were raised. Try to remember what worked and what didn’t. Try hard not to repeat the mistakes you parents made, and if useful to you, use those things that worked. And when you feel overwhelmed, it is a good idea to seek professional help. But above all, listen to your inner voice, and seek God’s help. It is where the endless wisdom of the universe is to be found. And we need every bit of it if we to be successful raising teenagers in the 21th century.