Parenting In Focus: The hardest factor about being an adolescent
Parenting In Focus: The toughest thing about being a teenager
By Cynthia Martin For the Sequim Gazette • March 9, 2022 1:30 am
It isn’t easy being a teen. But it is an important time to have some guidance from parents.
“Parents are the most influential people in the lives of their children and are constantly teaching them how to interact and solve problems with others” (“Calming the Family Storm” by Gary McKay and Steven Maybell).
Actually, a parent’s job is to be their child’s teacher at home. We trust that parents will work regularly to teach their children life’s lessons. While parents are important in helping teens with math, reading, history, geography, science and all their other subjects, they also need to be certain to teach about kindness, courtesy, responsibility, honesty and all the higher-level kinds of learning we each need.
But to have this much impact on your teenage children, you must first understand what they are going through in life. In her book, “Whatever, Mom,” author Ariel Gore writes a list of what 15- and 16-year-olds said were the hardest things about being a teen. As you read the many issues facing teens, it may give you a clue about ways your own child is struggling.
Guys — Following all the rules — Being looked down on by adults
Girls – Balancing life: work, school, friends, family – Living up to other’s expectations
Parents — Constant, nagging parents — Getting what you want
Stereotypes — peer pressure — not getting what you want
Judgment — Doing the right thing — Expectations shattered
Friends — Not getting the respect you deserve — Making the right choices
Grades — Criticism from shallow people — Dealing with changes
Responsibilities — Realizing you aren’t who you want to be — Wanting independence
Finding direction — Growing up — Not making own rules
No money — Mean teachers — Not enough sleep
This certainly can give you an idea about the kinds of struggles teens encounter. To find the right balance between being a “cuddling parent” and one who encourages independence can be a struggle for parents. Recognizing the issues teens confront helps parents keep their expectations at an appropriate level.
By the time your child is in high school, it is easy to be worried and stressed out by his behavior. All of the sudden you find yourself very unhappy with many of the things he is doing. This is a time you need to be aware of the many issues your child is facing at this age.
Try to get away from that feeling. Look for what he does well. Is he a great skateboarder? Does he spend special time with his grandfather? Did he offer to help with the dishes last night? Did he come home at the time he said he would be home? When you ask him to wash the car before you loan it to him, does he do it without any fuss?
Make a big deal about something that he does right. Find things on a regular basis that you can comment on. He needs to feel that you like him.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.