Every single parent worries about raising teenagers. Teenagers are in-between: they’re not quite old enough to understand the ways of the world, and they’re not young enough to keep wrapped in bubble wrap. They want to fly but their wings are in training, which means that you have a lot of headbutting in front of you – or so people would have you believe. So many people will tell you that teenagers are difficult, that they will argue and fight against every single rule that you set, and that much is true.
But it doesn’t have to be a headbutting battle of the wills. It doesn’t have to be you threatening to call criminal defense attorneys because they’ve gone off the rails and they need to be straightened out. When we start looking at our teenagers as people, as equals and not just uninformed and uneducated children, we start seeing them for the amazingly talented, exceptionally clever, and very insecure individuals that they are. Teenagers are balls of angst and fear, anger, and worry. They react to their feelings and their surroundings, and they react to the rules and boundaries in place as if they are being hemmed in. You remember what it was like to be a scared teenager, right? Well, instead of fighting your teenager, you should look at them as clay to be molded. Crime is a huge source of worry for parents, especially in an age where so many teenagers are engulfed in gang culture and knife crime.
Raising your teenager to be a well-rounded individual isn’t easy. But here are ten tips for raising that angry teenager of yours – ten tips that will give you all some peace and clarity in moving forward together.
1. It’s okay to have conflict. If there is one thing that is more normal than anything else when you are a parent, it’s conflict. Teenagers will fight against you but it doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate, love or respect you. They’re learning to become independent and it’s okay that they answer you back and it’s okay that they disagree with what you say. You’re the adult so listen to their point of view and pick your battles here. They’re going to need space to say their piece; give that to them.
2. Be interested. One of the biggest plights of the modern teenagers is that they feel like no one is listening to them. You don’t have to allow your teenager to feel that way. You can be the person who listens to them and makes them feel supported. Whether it’s with their schoolwork or their social lives you can be that sounding board and advisor that they need even when they don’t think that they need you. The biggest mistake that you could make, however, is turning your interest into pressure. Don’t pressure, just be there and be happy for their successes.
3. Make time to talk. Often, a shouting teenager is a desperate one in need of help. Make sure that you have time to listen to them and hear what they’re saying. If your teenager is looking to talk to you, sit down and let go of whatever you’re doing so that they feel like they have your full attention. Share your values with them but don’t push or press; make a point of listening and letting them speak.
4. Practice what you preach. If you expect your teenagers to show you respect, then you must do the same for them. They’re their own people with their own opinions, which means that they’re not always going to agree with everything that you have to say. Parents and teenagers will often have to agree to disagree, and sometimes you’re going to have to be okay with that! Teenagers are full of opinions and knowledge they are desperate to share, and they want to learn the world. Give them the chance to learn it in a way that makes them feel valuable.
5. Always, always encourage your teenager. To be an effective parent who is looking after an emerging adult, you need to encourage. The world is a cruel and harsh place, and while it’s a parent’s job to prepare their children for this world, it doesn’t mean that you have to be as harsh as the world. If anything, you need to be a safe, gentle space for your teenager to feel calm and at peace. Give them encouragement no matter what.
6. Keep the boundaries clear. You can put up boundaries without enforcing strict rules. Setting out clear guidelines of what you think is acceptable and coming up with these guidelines together is a smart plan. Tell your teenager where you’re going and when you’ll be back and expect the same. If you’re going to impose rules, you need to model them. Boundaries show that you care about their health and wellbeing.
7. Don’t forget to give them room. You have to allow your teenager – even the angry ones – to make mistakes. They need space to do this, and that means while you are setting guidelines and boundaries, you’re giving them a little grace to get things wrong. The most important thing here is that if you want your angry teenager to come to you for help, you need to make sure that they can tell you about the mistakes they’ve made safely.
8. Tell them about your mistakes, too. Sharing your stories, your mistakes and your wins from your own teen years will help your teenager to feel as if they can relate to you. Sharing your stories can help them to better understand where you’re coming from, which will mean the world to your teenager.
9. Offer outside help. If you want to make sure that your teenager is less angry, ask them what will help them the most. If they want to see a therapist, provide them with one. If they want to see a doctor, same. You need to show them that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help.
10. Look after you. As a parent, modeling the right behavior is a must. Take care of yourself and show your teenager it’s okay for them to take care of themselves, too.