While raising teenagers, the resulting tension and disagreements may confuse and distress you. Disagreements may not be pleasant, but they indicate that the channels of communication are open.
Such open conflict is better than a cold-war atmosphere where family members retreat to silent hostility or indifference.
Regardless of how difficult your teenagers may be, keep wide open the doors of acceptance, love and communication. Be firm, yet loving. Your teenager may be hostile, bitter, rebellious, sullen and unresponsive.
You may have reached your wit’s end and wish to withdraw, fight back or ask him or her to leave. However, always remember that the more difficult the child, the more she needs your love and concern.
She may reject every effort you put forth, but never reject her. Acting in a firm but loving manner, no matter how traumatic the circumstances, will pay rich dividends someday.
Guilt over what has or hasn’t been done only makes matters worse. Our fear of failure often clouds our thinking so that we can no longer distinguish between valid guilt and irrational guilt. Each new problem encountered presents new fears of inadequacy until the oppressing guilt we feel paralyses us. If we can’t deal with guilt feelings openly and honestly, they will corrupt all our relationships — with our mate, other children in the family, in-laws, and fellow workers. Guilt is a thief that robs us of joyful living.
Studies in child development indicate that a child’s temperament has more to do with her development. We all recognise the profound influence of a parent, but we have underestimated the child’s involvement in the process of development. Parents should distinguish between influence and control. Both can be exercised during the early years, but parents should ease up on control when a child becomes a teenager.
Your worth and identity are not dependent on what you have or have not accomplished as a parent. Appreciate your own worth! Only then will you be able to deal with your guilt and help your child through those traumatic teen years. Your child is a person of worth, even though she may have chosen values you don’t approve of. She must be allowed to develop her own values and live her life as she sees it fit. The older she gets, the less we are able to control and the more we can only influence a youngster.
It’s worth remembering that there is a person of worth behind objectionable behaviour. You should always see beyond behaviour to your children’s attitudes. Delinquent behaviour is only a symptom of a troubled teenager who is unable to cope with the pressures of life. Practice unconditional love when dealing with a wayward teenager.