Parenting can be challenging at any time, and no matter what age your children are, but it is certainly true that some periods are more challenging than others. Famously, the teen years are a time when children can be quite difficult to work with and be around, and this is something that you will probably find yourself needing to be prepared for when you have kids who are about to become teenagers themselves.
In this post, we are going to take you through the main challenges involved in parenting a teenager. While not all of these will happen to every teen, it’s good to just be aware of them just in case, so that you can be as prepared as possible for what might be ahead. Then you will be more likely to make the right decisions and be the best parent you can possibly be.
One element to all this that many parents find challenging is simply the fact that your teenager will suddenly go through a lot of changes, and that is something that can be quite emotionally challenging for you. You might find it hard to witness these changes, especially due to the nature of some of them which can be very different to how they were in the past. So a lot of this is about making sure that you are actually going to deal with having a teenager and watching them change over time.
If you are struggling with this, it’s all about acceptance – your kid is growing up, but that’s okay. It’s the natural order, and it’s just how things have to go. So it is a good idea to make sure that you bear that in mind. That approach might help you to deal with the emotional side of this a little better.
One really important and common part of adolescence is that the teen in question will usually start to engage in riskier behavior. This risk-taking is actually a healthy part of development, but as a parent you might naturally be worried that they are going to come to harm or cause trouble for someone else, or a combination of the two. It is natural and normal to have these fears, but you need to try and remember that it’s not actually all that likely that they will carry on with these things later on.
Regardless, their safety is your priority, so it is good to communicate with them if you are worried about some of their behavior. That way, you should be able to keep them much safer and ideally you will find that you are much more likely to see them through. But be aware that their risky behavior is a normal part of being a teenager. It might look like drug taking or drinking, or whatever else. The important thing is to keep them safe and talk to them about what they are doing.
Changes In Style & Appearance
It is also around adolescence that most of us start to play around with how we look, so you can expect your teeanger to start developing different styles and appearances as well. This is something that again can be quite disconcerting to you as a parent, though there is nothing inherently worrying or wrong about this kind of thing. But you will need to make sure that you are ready for it, because otherwise you might find yourself somewhat blindsided by it.
Actually, this is a good opportunity to show that you are there for them and that you support the decisions they are making. Being able to have freedom with one’s own appearance is always important, and the kind of thing that you need to make sure you allow them to have. So if they express a desire for a piercing, you could respond by buying them a nose ring, for instance. If you encourage them and show you are there for them, this might actually make it easier for both of you.
All in all, just try not to be too alarmed by these changes, and see them for what they are: transitory matters which don’t matter in the long run all that much.
Mental Health Challenges
One thing we can all agree on about adolescence is that it is a very tough time. In fact, the brain goes through more changes during this period than at any other point in one’s life, so it is hardly surprising that most teenagers experience a whole world of emotional and mental trouble. There is actually a lot of upheaval going on at the level of the brain. As well as being something you should try to remember when their behavior is less than favorable, you might also find you need to support them in having strong and positive mental health.
There are a number of mental health challenges that may arise, in fact. That might include mood swings, intense sadness, depression, anxiety, and all other kinds of issues that can arise with any human mind. The thing to do with all of these is first and foremost talk to your teen. After that, you can suggest to them things you think might help, either because they helped you in the past or you just know they are meant to be worthwhile endeavors.
It might be worth finding them a therapist if they are particularly struggling, or something similar. In any case, again it is just about showing your support and being there for them. This is something that you should aim to do as best as you can, and it will really make a huge difference to how they feel and how easily they can get through whatever they are going through.
Social Media Addiction
This was of course not always a problem, but these days it is so commonplace as to be expected. There is a good chance your teen might be addicted to social media, possibly even before they turn into a teenager. There is a lot of evidence that spending a lot of time on social media is related to depression and anxiety and other issues. So clearly this is an important thing that you need to pay attention to.
How to navigate this is tricky, however. Chances are, taking their phone away won’t go down well, and so you might need to think about what you can do to help encourage them away from their phone somewhat. It might be better to simply focus on other things, and encourage them to do the same. However you do it, this is a real danger and something you need to think about.
It is very common for parents and teenagers to clash and have arguments. Rather than trying to force this not to happen, however, it is probably generally preferable to simply understand why they happen and try to approach them in the best way you can. This is something that you might find quite difficult to do, but as the parent you need to try and set the example, so that is something that you should bear in mind here.
When you have arguments with your teen, what are they mostly about? Are they to do with a certain kind of behavior, for instance, or something you disapprove of, or are they more about some disagreement the two of you have? Could it be that you are simply missing one another’s point of view? In any case, it’s good to work out what the reasons behind it are so that you can take a better and more proactive approach in the future, and hopefully have fewer arguments, or simply more constructive ones.
Throughout everything, you will obviously have a desire to keep your connection with your teenager strong, and that means that you will have to at times put a lot of energy into making sure of that. They might be pulling away from you as well, so it might be doubly difficult to make sure of this. It’s the kind of thing that you will need to work at, however, and you will be glad that you did later on in life.
However, you can’t force it. In fact, if you try to force it, you’ll probably find that they respond negatively to this and you end up making things worse and all the more strained. So make sure that you avoid that mistake if at all possible. But do work at the relationship, and make sure that you don’t give up. Finding that balance can be tricky, but it’s important to get right for the sake of your relationship with one another now and into the future.
Those are just the main things you will need to look out for and which you might be up against when you have a teenager. The better prepared you are for these, the easier you should find it to parent your teenager. Make sure you keep your head, and all should be well.