Thursday, November 19, 2009
A "Hands On" Approach to Parenting
Sometimes, a lot of times really, parents are simply too tired to go head-to-head with our teen in angst. And, it's true that if you come back to it in a day or so, lots of the emotion will have blown away and it's easier to get through the day. But the issues are still just under the surface. This is a missed opportunity on so many levels.
Your teen could learn to face their problems head on. They could see that you are not afraid to go into these treacherous waters WITH them. They could see you're not afraid to stand by them and face the scary stuff that they are facing each day. You could show them that you think their problems are important, even if they seem petty and small to you. They are obviously causing your teen some difficulties. You can let them know that they are important to you and helping them solve problems is part of the job of parenting.
You might have to bite your tongue. Teens want to be heard - who doesn't? They really want to come to the conclusion on their own. So asking questions is better than telling them what should be done. Even if you think you know. Helping them learn to problem-solve is the key. Not doing it for them.
Relating stories from when you had similar situations as a teen might help. Watch their expressions though. You might be really "getting into" your story of your own teen years, and they are tuning out. Not because your story is dull (I'm sure it's not!) but because the shift of the focus went from them to you. They are the one who is in the middle of a struggle. Keep your story brief. ;-)
So often, they think we cannot relate. Or they're afraid we're going to judge them. Or point out their mistakes. These are the pitfalls to avoid in these parent-teen interactions. While it may sound hokey, they need to know that you are coming from a place of love not worry - because worry implies you think they cannot handle themselves. But from love. You want them to be happy. You want to be their safe place they can run to when their friends stab them in the back. You want to be the one who will not betray them. They will come to trust you, share more with you, and value your input. Win-win.