Parenting Teenagers

Parenting Teenagers Feature image

Picture this; you are in a mall late evening and you find this group of young teenagers hanging around with friends with nothing much to do, just sauntering, window shopping and wasting their time walking around the large hallways of the mall. What is the thought that comes to your mind? You think about the time they’re spending there and wonder what they are doing there in the first place. why are they not supervised, why would they be alone at that late hour etc.etc.

Almost eight years ago I wrote an article “A wasted generation”. I was disillusioned and frustrated by the way students did not focus on studies, wasted their evenings with friends, did not find anything constructive to do, made no contributions to the society or the community – nothing! The children only found solace playing video games and hanging out with friends, it was also the time late nights started getting ‘invogue’ which led to other issues like late night outings, late texting, watching movies, etc.
Parents were distraught, they did not know how to handle teens, while teachers in school grappled with their late night hang overs in class.

Sounds very familiar with this generation too, right? Eight years on and continuing, parents are still grappling with the situation in the same way. The problem is compounded further, because we as a community and society are very ‘closed’ to knowing, understanding or studying teen issues and their psychology, it is also a fact that as a community we do not like talking about it to relatives, friends or acquaintances or even find it very awkward to seek help from professionals.

But the good news is, you are not in it alone, you turn to a teen parent, right or left to you, they will speak to you of the similar situation they are in too. Parents of teen friends are always advised to be friends so that they can seek solace in each other and also tackle situations together.

It is not easy being a parent in this age and time, it is tricky, draining and confusing. Many parents are taking the help of professionals and you should explore this option frequently, you will surely get good guidance threading the unknown path. It’s important to understand the science behind a teens mind in order to make any judgements around their behavior.

Adolescence age ranges from 10-19 years, it is the age of rapid cognitive, physical and psychosocial growth. The age range the WHO defines an adolescent as young people is from the age of 10 years to 24 years. So, though the teenage years are from 13 to 19, a part of the brain development of the prefrontal cortex continues until 24 to 25 years of age. “The prefrontal cortex offers an individual the capacity to exercise good judgment when presented with difficult life situations. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the frontal lobes lying just behind the forehead, is responsible for cognitive analysis, abstract thought, and the moderation of correct behavior in social situations. It acquires information from all of the senses and orchestrates thoughts and actions in order to achieve specific goals.” (source: National Library of Science website)

The best way to take care of rebellious teens is to be empathetic to them. The way a volatile situation is dealt with makes a whole lot of difference, when tempers go high, emotions are brittle and sensibilities blurred, It is better for adults to back off. Confrontation is not the answer to dealing with any sensitive situation. I have known of some parents who have been at the brink of breakdown or separation from their spouses because of immature handling of youngsters. How do we deal with it and what is the best solution for anxious parents?

It is easier said than done when I say ‘back off’, but in the majority of the cases it works. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words, the more parents bombard children with advice, the more you find them aggressive and rebellious. Speaking less but sensitively, reacting less and being patient are the two virtues that can help you navigate your way through testing times.
For parents, it is advisable to speak the same language with children. The minute children see a difference of opinion in parents, they tend to take advantage for their benefit which is a very dangerous situation for parents to handle. Sitting together to first decide on what kind of parenting you would like to adopt would be a better idea than allowing children to take advantage of your differences. There are innumerable instances when we hear of this. One parent will agree to a child’s demand to hand over a
phone at the age of 13 while another may not be in favor of it.

If parents do not stand by each other during the very early adolescent period of children, the family invariably faces huge turmoil when children grow up to be teens. Being together talking the same language, having the same rules for children will make children more stable, resilient, confident and independent.

With the family structure of our homes disintegrating, grandparents not being part of families, nuclear families largely taking over the landscape and with both parents being busy professionals, children are grappling with loneliness, and low self-esteem. They can be no substitute to parents, as much as you fill a child’s life with material things to satisfy a child’s needs and give in to instant gratification of a child’s needs, it makes the child vulnerable, demanding and insensitive to situations around.

So what happened to these bunch of teens eight years on? Surprisingly and fortunately these kids have turned out well in life. They are now professionals placed well in life, doing well for themselves and are successful in their respective areas of work. So, parents of teens, I am sure you are happy to read this! What worked well for these set of students who I thought were a “waste generation”. I could identify one single aspect that was common to all. It goes back to the strong family values that each one was
imbibed with. However rebellious they were in their teens, it’s the family values, family ties that held them from doing anything that went against it. It was the family support that helped them sail through the turbulent teen-age.

Be the anchor to the kids, however rebellious they may seem, be there for them, never give up, neverspeak negatively. Be there rock soiled for your child, be patient and let time pass. Once the child crosses teen years, there is no looking back, they will have a place under the sun.