It was my kids homework that did it. Every night became a challenge to me how to get my son, a non-academic, to do his homework. I tried encouragement, patience, and teaching, but all of them to no avail. I even tried other tactics like bribery, threats and punishment, and still no success. Until I’ve tried anger, frustration and tears, but my teenagers still didn’t budge. But in the end of my tether to my teen, I knew it was time for a change.
Looking back on my behaviour towards my teenager, I’ve seen how I had changed from a calm, encouraging parent into a demanding, controlling tyrant. This was a real and true wake up call for me. I could not believe myself that I had turned into the very thing I hated to see in others. I asked myself, “what is more important to me, homework or the relationship with my grown up?”
The parenting relationship is a tricky and challenging one; one that needs to continue to evolve and grow over time. It is made even tricker by the fact that the child uses this current relationship as a role model or guide for future relationships. As a child, they see that adults have the power and control in a relationship; then as they grow into adolescents they want this control and power for themselves. That’s why there are so many battles and challenges between parents and teens.
However, the desire for power and control is also reflected among teenagers themselves. Mixed with the self-centeredness left over from their childhood and the need to be accepted, a potent mix is made; otherwise known as peer pressure. This peer-pressure can take many forms, from manipulating someone to give you what you want or in daring someone to do something that you haven’t got the courage to do before. Standing up to this peer-pressure, specially from their close friends can be difficult and hard.
With this, teenagers need to learn how to get their needs met but without leading to using control, power or manipulation. It is also importantly that they need to learn how to resist pressure from others specially from close friends. If we parents can change the relationship they have with their teenagers so that each other’s needs are fulfilled with using respect, understanding and appreciation, then teenagers can experiment and realise the benefits of such a relationship.
Luckily, the tools required for such a relationship can be easily taught and implemented, but putting them into practice in our daily lives will take a little more effort. By telling our teens what to do rarely works to most of us, so parents will need to initiate the changes and be creative in using the tools with their teen.
Once your relationship has changed with your teenager, you’ll both be in a productive position to tackle the other relationships in your teenager’s life.
Tips on How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teenagers
- Listen to their point of view. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. Then ask them how it makes them feel if I do this.
- Understand what makes them respond or tick. Discover and look for the differences between you and your teenagers, then learn more about them.
- Accept them for who they are now. Differentiate between them as a person and their behaviour. Ask for change in their behaviour but accept them as they are.
- Acknowledge their presence. Always on the watch for what they do that’s positive and show/verbalise your appreciation. Also appreciate what they don’t do as well as what they do.
- Give your teens some space. Remember, teens need privacy, not just in their bedrooms but also in their thoughts and what they are thinking. Avoid interrogation techniques and opt for genuine interest in your way of communication.
AUTHOR: Carol Shepley