In order to know how to raise teenagers and have a healthy relationship with your son or daughter in their teens you need to do the groundwork when they are much younger. If you’ve taught your children values at an early age – good manners, politeness – they will carry them through their life.
There’s a lot of emphasis on under-five care, but people assume that as the children get older the problems of a working mother evaporate. They don’t; the problems just change. Between the age of 14 and 16 is a crucial time. Rapid emotional and physical changes coincide with immense pressure to perform academically. Girls may be even more difficult to raise than boys.
Communication is KEY
Establish contact with their school, so you can easily find out how your teen is doing. Have shared interests and spend time together.
You need to give them freedom; you can’t treat them as if they’re seven. This is how they will learn to develop as individuals, acquire social skills and manage risk. Teenagers are entitled to privacy – it can be tempting to try to find out everything that’s going on with them, but have trust. You would hope they’d had relationship and sex education at school, so asking about what they discussed can provide a trigger to raise issues about safe sex.
Keep the channels of communication open so that, if they were thinking about trying something risky, they might want to tell you about it first. Teenagers want boundaries; they want to know that there are limits they can’t go beyond. Be authoritative, not authoritarian.
If you can’t be there all the time, don’t worry. But make sure you take an interest in what happened at the play or what the score was at the match. Make them aware that the things that are important to them are important to you, too. It’s about the quality of the relationship rather than the amount of time spent together.
Some parents get completely frustrated by how uncommunicative and narcissistic teens are. But it’s temporary. We need to stop demonising them, and start raising teenagers the right way. There’s so much bad press about them, but most are perfectly fine young adults who just go through difficult patches.