All of those self-help books are great, but when it comes to parenting YOUR child, you have to trust your own instincts too.
There are certainly common truths about teenagers:
- They all struggle to grow up
- They all try to figure out who and what they want to be
- They all go through puberty and experience strange hormonal behavior
- They all wonder if they can trust you
- They all come to the conclusion that their parents are not perfect
- They all struggle for independence
- They all form their own opinions
- They all look for ways to express who THEY are
- They all try new things to figure out what they want
- They all TRULY want your approval
- They all drive you crazy!
Although these are common to most (if not all) teenagers, your teenager is like no other in the world. He is unique. He is special and he can’t be raised with a cookie cutter mentality.
SO…when you are trying to figure out how to solve a problem with your teen, you need to start by thinking of HIM as a person.
Remember when your infant was sick and you told the pediatrician exactly HOW his behavior was abnormal?
You STILL know your child better than anyone else on the planet.
There will come a day when your child goes off to college and then on into the working world. And his friends, lovers and co-workers may learn to know him better.
He may develop new interests and opinions from exposure to new information and though he will always be your son, you may now be a bit less involved in his day-to-day life.
THEN, you will no longer be the all-knowing parent you once were.
BUT, if your teenager is still living at home and you still see him every day, you know what foods he likes, what movies he watches (hopefully) and who his friends are.
You know what makes him laugh and what makes him go quiet.
USE THIS INFORMATION when you communicate with your child.
Don’t be so frustrated by his weird behavior that you become a red-faced, screaming lunatic who makes him stomp out of the house in anger.
Remember who your child is at his core and use that information to find a way to communicate with him.
If he has a great sense of humor and often uses humor to diffuse an argument, you should do the same when you talk to him.
If she is NOT a morning person, don’t try to have that discussion about grades at the breakfast table.
It doesn’t matter what YOU prefer, unless you don’t care about talking to your teen and getting results.
If you truly want to connect, you have to take what you know about your child and use it to get through their teenage armor.
If your son LOVES action flicks, he will probably want to go to the opening of that new movie with his friends.
BUT, you could express an interest in seeing it and tell him that no one wants to go with you.
Ask him to take you on a date and joke about how he can explain the movie to you if you don’t ‘get it’. Then schedule a movie night and go out for something to eat.
Talk in the car, talk in the restaurant, and take advantage of the relaxed time together. DON’T fight.
If there are things you want to talk about, start by asking HIM what he thinks and how he feels.
If your daughter loves romantic movies and her date takes her to see one, ask her if she liked it when she comes home.
If she says ‘yes’, ask her if she’d like to go see it again with you. Tell her that you’d LOVE to go.
You have to get creative!
If your son loves basketball, get tickets to a basketball game and take him and, if necessary, a couple of friends.
You’ll have to time to talk to all of them in the car on the way to the game and to observe them during the game and see how they interact and what they are like.
This is all-important information for a parent if they are to trust what their child is doing and who his friends are.
At the very least, you are staying involved in your child’s life. A movie night at home is great too.
If there is a movie you used to watch together and it’s on TV, schedule time to make popcorn and laugh at the old film. If there is a new movie you all want to see, rent it and watch it together.
The idea is to stay connected and to KNOW your child as they change and grow. They ARE changing and you can’t assume that they still like or dislike the same music or people.
It is better for you to know about these changes as they are happening than to find out when your child gets into trouble.
Is your child interested in the world around her?
Talk about the news stories you’ve heard that day and see what SHE thinks about the boy who sprayed graffiti on the statue in the park or the developments in our government?
Does she know or even care about international politics?
What books does she like?
What is her favorite musical artist? You know the CORE of your child better than anyone, but remember that her tastes are changing and you want to keep up with that, so you know what is influencing her life.
Your son may have been the only one on the block who had nightmares after watching that old horror movie when he was ten.
You know he’s sensitive, right? But, what is it that scares him NOW?
That personal approach will help you be a better parent to a teenager and your teen will know that you take an interest in what she likes and dislikes.
Need help in parenting your teenager? Click here for an excellent guide.