How Parents Can Gently Help Their Teenagers

The process of becoming a responsible adult is an often shaky one.  Many parents realize that their children need some guidance through their teen years, and yet few of us had a good adolescent experience of our own.

What can you do to help your teenager live successfully through this difficult period?

Be patient.

Try to understand and accept the fact that your teenager is experiencing a stage of growth and development that makes him see himself, you, and the world as quite different from what he has known before.

Realize that he is up against some serious problems that are not necessarily of his own making but are inherent in adolescence or in our complex civilization.

Remember too that as a child he thought you knew everything; now he realizes that you are not omniscient.

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Listen, listen, listen.

Listen to your teenager, even though you do not necessarily understand him or agree with what he says.

Hear him out.

Do not try to force your own ideas and convictions onto him, even when you think absolutely that you are right and he is wrong. He is probably trying to find his way through the woods of adolescence and wants to verbalize his confusion.  He will need to do this in order to reach full maturity.

Trust your teenager.

Encourage your youngster to decide most things for himself; to be self-sufficient within limits. Do not make up his mind for him as if he were an incompetent child.

Do not expect him, on the other hand, to behave always like an adult when he is still an adolescent.

Keep your sense of humor.

Many things that normal teenagers do seem unnecessary at times and annoying to adults, many of whom have forgotten how it feels to be an adolescent. Adults should try to understand why teens act as they do and not become upset when their youngsters behave as normal, healthy teenagers are supposed to behave.

If we can remember that we too were once in the midst of teenage development, we can understand how important it is to allow our children grace through this time.  As they grow and gain responsibility, we can encourage them rather than discourage them with harsh words and impossible expectations.

Aadel Bussinger

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