Burying our heads in the sand won’t get you, or your adolescent, through their adolescent years unscathed. Saying, “I didn’t know” and using that as a comfort zone excuse is not a useful parenting strategy. For us, or for our teens. The pressures on our adolescents are E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S and far greater than anything we ever faced as adolescents. That’s for children as young as nine, through to as old as 25.
Naming the pressures does make us more aware of them, yes. There are so many, all of varying intensity that it is tempting to want to bury our parenting heads in the sand ostrich style and cross our fingers and all our toes.
We all know this won’t stand up to much. Especially not the robust problems adolescence brings. Blaming the pressures doesn’t help. Proactive parenting does not stop at blaming other circumstances or influences. Robust parenting expects us to ask, “What can I do about this?” And to begin to put plans in action.
I see a lot of parents who, once they are aware of the pressures our adolescents face, simply throw around a bit of blame. They try to analyse a problem in the hope that it might go away And they DO NOT take the action that would be useful. The harder option at the beginning, yes. The most useful option in the long term as the accumulation of problems begins to mount up.
The world our adolescents are facing has changed so much from our time as an adolescent. We may not be aware of all the challenges, and yet we, as their parents, are expected to guide our adolescents through the years from 9 to 25. With love. It’s a big job.
Five Tips for Getting Through:
- Be kind to yourself. You are doing the world’s most important job. None of us will ever do this job perfectly. Talk kindly to yourself when things go pear shaped. Give yourself the exact same advice you would give to your best friend.
- Be lovingly firm with your adolescents. They need boundaries, even when they tell you they hate them (and you). It’s really not personal.
- Adolescents also need to know you are on their side, and willing to guide them.
- Invest in knowledge. Learn how to talk with your teenager so you can communicate your way through any problem together.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait until there is a problem. Have the talks you don’t want to have before you need to have them. It’s more than the internet talk, the sex talk, the alcohol talk and the driving talk. There’s also the porn talk, the suicide talk and the gender talk. As you guide your adolescent through the beginning of a new issue, keep the boundaries firm, with a view to loosening up as they grow into accepting the responsibilities. Be informed. They need you to guide them.
You are their parent. Be the adult they need you to be. Burying your head in the sand helps no one.
I fully understand the temptation to do nothing. For years, I convinced myself that the behaviour I was seeing wasn’t depression, or anxiety. It turns out it was. And for sure I now know with the benefit of hindsight that finding robust parenting tools earlier would have been far more beneficial. And that’s the end of blame. It’s not helping. Nor did it help me once the lights were on in my head.
If you are looking for a key parenting tool, ‘Teen Talk’ is an online course that teaches you how to communicate effectively with your adolescent no matter what circumstances they are facing.
The more you work together with your adolescent, the more you will be in a position to guide them through the times they really need you to be an aware, focused and proactive parent. One who is on their side and guiding them towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Click here for more information.