It’s a constant battle – adults v kids. From the moment they are born, we are playing catch-up. The moment we figure out what to do, the little blighters change the rules and we are back to square 1.
Those with long memories will recall ‘Supernanny’ on Channel 4, which shone a torch at the battlefield that was bringing up toddlers and young children. It also gave the childless out there a really good insight into the ‘challenges’ of parenthood. Maybe you like me introduced House Rules along with Reward Charts and the Naughty Step, and maybe it even worked. But not for long!
The onset of the adolescent years brings with it a whole new set of challenges. For me, it’s a couple of spotty grunting teenage boys. Barely an hour goes by without them being generally objectionable or arguing with each other, me or my wife. Even the poor dog prefers to hide away from them.
Recognise this situation? I thought so. Here are some tips that might help.
Accept that conflict is (almost) inevitable. They are forming a new relationship with you, gone are the adult : child days, they want you to treat them as adults too. You as a parent need to accept this and work out how the new relationship works. Teenagers can make some poor decisions, you would not be doing your job as a parent if you didn’t point this out.
Remember it’s their hormones. Underneath it all, they are normal people – well most of them anyway. They will be rude, objectionable, overly emotional and make a nuisance of themselves. They are coming to terms with the onset of adulthood, whilst switching to childlike behaviour the next, it takes time for them to establish their identity and place in the family unit.
Disagreement is good. No parent wants their child to end up a Mini-Me. When they start to think for themselves and develop their own opinions, you should expect them to challenge you on your beliefs. Take it as an opportunity for reasoned debate, who knows they may be able to change your mind.
You are the most embarrassing person on the planet. You just have to accept this. Just shrug your shoulders and embrace it. There is much fun to be had by going out of your way to dress badly (figure hugging tea-shirts normally suffice) and call your teenagers mates “dudes” and suchlike. Take it as a minor victory.
You are still required. I don’t mean just there to provide lifts and hand out wads of cash, on demand – although that is undeniably part of the deal. Be there to listen to their problems – remember you are not expected to solve them now. Help where you can.
Finally, there is a good side to having teenagers. They can look after themselves, and can be both witty and intelligent. You can take them out, without worrying that they will run off or burst into tears when they are tired. My kids have even be known to make me the occasional cup of tea – maybe there is hope for all of us yet.