“How do you parent a teenager?”
A man on the other side of the call, said, even before introducing himself.
“Who is this”, I asked.
“This is your friend on your Facebook page. Do I have to introduce myself to seek your advice? I need your help. I am finding it difficult to parent my girl who is just turning 16 years. She is slowly becoming a monster. She does not listen. She is full of herself. Very lazy. And the only time I see her smile is when I tell her ‘I am going to town, be a good girl’.”
Ok, slow down. What has she done?
“She does not listen. I bought her a laptop to be able to do online studies, but when I checked what she was up to, I was scared. She is downloading many movies from YouTube, some are x-rated. She is abusing the internet access I gave to facilitate remote learning. Can you imagine? There are so many educational resources online. But she is not interested in any of them. How do I let her know that her choices today will make or break her career tomorrow?”
What would you say are her strengths? I asked.
“She has learned how to cook. She guides her siblings. She reads the bible. She is good at school; in fact, she was among the top 10 last year, with an average score of 85%, which I found to be a good performance. And her teachers say she is good at sports.”
That is fantastic. How often do you appreciate her?
Children behave differently during their teens. Adolescence is a difficult period as many children undergo a transformation in body, physical appearance, and mind. The body changes fast and the teens feel the urge to experiment with it. They crave for freedom. To do things their way. To try out new things.
Every parent is different in their way. It is difficult to copy and paste a particular parenting behaviour or guide.
Your best bet is finding a common ground and creating a relationship with your child. Having some rules in place and using the carrot and stick approach could be fantastic. If the child does well, reward them. If they do not deliver to expectations, consider removing some benefits, like watching TV on weekends.
Children need attention. It is the responsibility of the parent to try to create a good relationship with their child. Playing together. Doing house choirs together. And sitting down to listen to her challenges and worries.
Do you have a teenager? What is your experience? How do you parent a teenager without losing your head or hers?
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.