Having children is a precious gift. It’s a joy watching them grow and turn into independent and free-thinking individuals. However, as they enter the teenage years, it can be challenging to navigate the changing waters of parenthood. So, how can you best prepare yourself for what is to come?
Talking to a teenager can be an arduous task. The teenage years are often marked by decreased communication with parents and a reliance on peers for help and advice. However, they are still at an age where they require parental input, so you may need to change your approach.
Create an ongoing atmosphere of openness. Your teenager is more likely to discuss sensitive matters with you if you are open and transparent in everyday life. Subjects relating to relationships and intimacy should not be taboo. If you discuss these issues as part of an ongoing dialogue, teenagers are more likely to tell you if they are experienceing serious problems in their lives.
If an issue needs addressing, choose a time when you are both relaxed before attempting to talk. Try to speak calmly with your child; if you allow emotion to drive the conversation, they will likely shut down and refuse to engage. Be assertive without being angry, and always give them a chance to speak; listen attentively. Teenage emotions are fragile, and you must create a safe emotional space to express yourself freely.
The teenage years can be full of confusion and discovery. Many teenagers will be experimenting with different ideas and identities and may go through several phases until they feel comfortable in their skin. It’s crucial to embrace the person they are and show your support, even if it’s temporary.
If they develop an interest or obsession, go with it. For example, if at 14 they are a Star Wars fan, celebrate their birthday with a T-shirt from 8ball.co.uk; and if at 15 they move on and want to experience a gothic phase, go with it! It’s a transitional time, and it’s essential for their development to spend some time discovering who they are.
The driving force behind the transitional phase that teenagers experience is the way the body changes.
It would help if you discussed with your teenager what to expect, so it doesn’t come as a shock to them. Explain to girls what will happen each month and how it will feel. They will appreciate the heads up and won’t be shocked when they get their first period. Prepare a small kit with everything they will need, so it isn’t a big deal when it happens.
Boys are naturally less communicative than girls, but try to have an open discussion about the changes and what to expect, such as increased hair growth, sexual urges, and mood swings. It’s essential around this age to discuss the importance of safety when they become sexually active. They are unlikely to be emotionally mature enough to engage in a sexual relationship, but if it happens, at least you know they understand the importance of protection.
There is no doubt that watching your teenager move from childhood to adulthood is an unsettling time for kids and parents. Still, you can move through this period smoothly and effectively with open communication and a supportive relationship.