- Avoid treating teenagers as children as this makes them feel that you do not trust them.
- Shape behaviour and build trust at an early age, which makes it easier for the children to want to involve parents in their lives.
- Fathers especially need to talk more with their children and mentor them.
|Josphine Gitonga from Kenya.|
Parenting older children is becoming complex with the passing of days, thereby calling for parents to change the skills their parents used on them ages ago, writes Phares Mutembei
Martin Murithi and his wife Lena are in a fix. They are almost giving up on their 17-year-old son.
The father cannot understand why his teenage son, Jeb, has a penchant for always being on the wrong side of the law. He breaks rules at home and school with reckless abandon; in a clear show that authority is alien to him.
Murithi says he is becoming more desperate and knows not how to rein him in, because Jeb has given the term ‘impunity’ a whole new meaning. His long-standing rebel behaviour is always driving the entire household up the wall.
“He is always upsetting the tranquil atmosphere that is our home. It is as if he loathes order, because he seems to be always looking for an opportunity to cause a ruckus. I have seen other teenagers misbehave, but I think our Jeb has upped the ante of teenage rebellion to a new level,” laments Murithi, a roads engineer.
“To contain him, we have set strict rules and terms of punishment he will endure if he breaks them. But even that has not motivated him to stop misbehaving. When he is not breaking the rules, he finds a way to bend them. I’m tired of whacking him or giving him work as a form of punishment,” Murithi says.
He is not alone. Managing children, and especially teenagers, can be a trying experience. Defiance, violent behaviour, negative peer pressure, alcohol and drug abuse are some of the issues that confront parents in the task of parenting older children.
In more complex situations, some parents are rendered helpless, having to watch their children abuse dangerous drugs, which has seen the rising cases of young adults being checked into drug rehabilitation centres.
Living in the past
Sara, 17, and her elder sister have taken their single mother to hell and back. The teenagers claim their mother lives in the past while they live in a changed world.
“What was wrong in her time is acceptable in our modern world, yet she wants us to do it her way,” they cry.
“My mum is a single parent. She has brought us up by working hard, which we appreciate. However, we don’t get along all the time because she demands us to do some things her way. My sister and I often gang up against her to get our way. It is unfair, but it helps us,” reveals Sara.