Some of the greatest challenges in parenting take place during your child's teenage years. In his book "The Power of Positive Parenting," Dr. Glen Latham says, "Without question, the most stressful years for parents are when their children are between 13 and 20." While experiences vary from one individual to the next, there are some problems many teenagers have in common regarding their relationship with their parents. Knowing what those problems are can help you and your teenager successfully navigate the transitional years between childhood and adulthood.
One of the most difficult problems to contend with is appropriate discipline. Part of this can be attributed to the changed parent-child dynamic. When your son is young, simply telling him your expectations and administering the appropriate consequence is enough to compel his obedience. However, your teenage son may be more aggressive in his attempts to resist your authority. As frustrating as this is, it is fairly normal teenage behavior. Your son is trying to determine how flexible his boundaries are now that he is older. To minimize the conflict , Latham recommends tying responsibilities to privileges. For example, tell your son he can take the car when his chores are done. Do not allow yourself to get drawn into counterproductive arguments with him. He will either complete his work or give up access to the car. Let him make the choice.
Another problem teenagers and parents struggle with is ineffective communication. As a young girl, your daughter came to you with problems she hoped you could solve for her. However, as a teenager, she may want validation of her feelings and understanding from you, not necessarily a solution. Well-intentioned suggestions will not be received well if your daughter was not asking for advice. Furthermore, if she interprets your comments as criticism, she may retaliate, which could lead to hurt feelings on both sides and provoke further arguments. To avoid this it is very important that you listen more than you talk when you are conversing with your teenager. Try to refrain from giving advice unless she asks for it.
Differences of Opinion
Up until this point in his life, your son has probably adopted your values and beliefs regarding education, family and religion as his own. However, during adolescence many teenagers begin to question the values and beliefs they were raised with in an effort to separate their true feelings from those of their parents. According to Latham, this period of questioning is both normal and appropriate. However, it does have the potential for conflict if one or the other of you feels disrespected. As the parent, the obligation to remain calm and reasonable falls on you. Model unconditional acceptance for your child by your willingness to thoughtfully consider his point of view. Show him the appropriate way to respectfully disagree with someone by expressing your opinions firmly, but politely. Your son should make his own choices about his beliefs. You want him to think independently and trust his instincts.