I then followed it up with another entry a week later. That one discussed the emotional, biological, social and relationship changes teens undergo.
I ended the piece by mentioning mechanisms that parents like me might incorporate to handle challenging moments between parent and teen. Challenges that will inevitably arise from those four aforementioned changes.
But I didn’t elaborate what the mechanisms were.
Starting today, I shall do just that!
But first and foremost, it’s important to remember again what’s going on with my son as he enters teen-dom.
Newsflash! Parenting a teen is different from parenting a child
Up until the last two years when my eldest was still a pre-teen, parenting was somewhat straightforward.
It was a simple case of “Daddy’s Way, or the Highway!“
Ok take it easy. There’s no need to call the Child Protection Unit. I’m no monster dad (at least I don’t think so).
All I’m saying is up until the age of 11 or 12, most kids would toe the line and not really challenge their parents when it comes to family decisions. So if say mom insists they go to bed by a certain time, or I make them follow me out to run errands, my boys generally comply without a pip.
However, that kind of parenting style is ultimately unsustainable, as any parent of grown-up kids would tell you.
So if for even a second I think I can steamroll my way to get what I want with my sons, I’m destined to be one sad schmuck! And while I’m at it, I can kiss any hopes of family bliss goodbye too.
These changes are the unavoidable rites of passage towards adulthood that all teens experience.
Their bodies are increasingly growing stronger, sturdier and bigger (while mine’s going the opposite way!). Their brains are also growing in ways that are helping them see the world no longer through child-like innocent lenses, but with more filters that recognise there is more than one way to live and make decisions.
And unfortunately, mom and dad’s way isn’t the only way!
Adaptive mechanism #1a for parents– Being polite
Yet for peace to reign at home, what should a parent do when coming up against a teen who’s now more likely to say “No” instead of “Yes” to his parent’s bidding?
One of the first adaptive mechanisms I was advised of at the parenting workshop I attended was “respect and consideration.”
That means a few things.
One of these is learning to speak to the teen politely and in a pleasant tone of voice.
As his dad, I must start to see my teen not so much as my child to ‘talk down’ to, or assert my grown-up rights at.
Which I suspect in many households typically involves raised voices and (gulp) even fists! Not judging — cos it happens in mine too! — since short tempers can achieve quick short-term obedience.
But long-term harmony, unity and tight parent-child relationships? Not so much.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Praise and respect all around!
According to the workshop, not only must we show respect to our teen, we must also be seen being polite to those around him and ourselves. And to offer praise readily when they in turn are polite and whenever it’s warranted.
In short, to gain respect, parents must model it!
Now that may sound like a no-brainer, but in day-to-day reality it can sometimes be hard to do.
At least for me it is.
I’ve often caught myself thinking the worse when I see a bunch of young boys together just hanging out. It’s like I’ve already concluded that, unless they are playing a sport like parkour or football, a bunch of teenagers huddled together are potentially up to no good.
Irrational? Certainly. Downright judgemental? Definitely!
Maybe it’s cultural in my neck of the woods. Or my own upbringing in a strict home that disdains anything which smacks of defiance or disobedience.
I honestly have no clue.
I do know, and understand now, that continuing to hold onto such off-kilter notions when it comes to raising my teen will invariably backfire on me and our relationship.
So I best imbibe this adaptive mechanism now or risk payback!
What about you? How do you show respect and consideration daily to your teen? Would love to hear your tips.
Meantime, tune in next week as I explore Adaptive Mechanism #1b — Setting boundaries.