I have to admit I was quite surprised as a parent to discover that not just girls, but also boys, journey through turbulent times as they enter adolescence. I just didn’t see it coming. Bam it hit. As the parent I wasn’t prepared. I know my son was not prepared either.
Suddenly there was a big increase in late night discussions. The discussions were often intense. The crises were real, but they were not really as disastrous as they seemed to my almost teenager. As the parent I had to quickly learn how to navigate this new and often turbulent phase of child’s development.
Here are some of the things I learned to do and not do. These are not necessarily one’s natural response nor are they easy.
- Don’t laugh at them, even if you have to pinch yourself to prevent doing so
- Don’t’ belittle the situation
- Listen attentively
- Acknowledge their feelings and thoughts
- Help them see that the mountain-size problem is not quite as big as it seems
- Empathize, but keep it about them, not you
- Ask open questions which require more than a yes or no answer
- Help them understand that feelings can change quickly and are not always reliable
- Help them discover options and solutions
- Allow them to choose options and solutions
Our goal as parents is to raise independent, mature adults. This is a process which requires trial and error. As teens they need to gain more and more freedom. With freedom comes more options and decision making. They need to be allowed to make choices and even make mistakes as much can be learned from both.
Some teens need to talk more than others. Keep the dialogue open and be available so that molehill size problems can remain molehills and not become mountains.