I am a Dad of two teenage kid’s. My Son is 19 Years old and my Daughter 16 years old. Now you would think that having teenagers for the last 6 years you would think I have the hang of this teenage parenting thing by now but each new day brings along another challenge that you are not prepared or trained to deal with.
When your kid’s are young you have full control over them in many ways. Firstly they tend to believe whatever you tell them. Take Santa Claus and the tooth fairy to be exhibits A & B. They also think that you are the fountain of all knowledge and by far the smartest person in their world and you prove that on a daily basis by answering their many, many questions, such as: Dad, why is the sky blue? Dad, where does the water go when you unplug the bath? Dad, Why did you shout at the man on the TV?
This warm feeling of security and control continues then one day it happens….. 13th Birthday or if your’e super unlucky you have an early developer and it’s sooner. The questions of innocence and wonder are replaced by, Dad, why can’t I go to the party of the year at Joe the dope smoking cool kids house? or Dad, Can i borrow the Car?
Being a Parent of a teenager opens up a completely new world of problems, Obstacles and worries but it can also be a time of great reward, satisfaction and absolute Joy. OK i was getting a bit carried away with that last sentence! Seriously though I have been on a constant learning curve since my kids entered the twilight teenage zone.
The learning curve as taught me so far to do the following:
- Learn to let Go. This is rather hard to do. Your instinct as a parent is to protect and nurture. Some parents may find letting go easier than others. This is something I found difficult. I am a person who is quite particular, and thorough about how I do things. I am always prepared and thinking ahead. I am early for appointments and do not like to let people down etc. Some may say a bit of a control freak. So letting go was hard for me and it took a while. Thankfully it happens fairly naturally and you soon find that you need your space from your teenagers as much as they need it from you.
- Except that you are not the centre of their world anymore. I was replaced by the latest boy band in my Daughters case. Posters adorned her bedroom wall and every word spoken by said boy band member was greeted with over excitement that bordered insanity. I found that agreeing to like the boy bands latest hit record and review it as though reviewing Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd gained me some daughter acceptance points. These were however short lasting and were immediately refunded when I would ask “do you really need to wear that much makeup?”
- Wish you had never bought them that smartphone. Phones are a great invention and they do allow you to be a modern parent and have immediate contact with your child at any time of day (should they answer the damn thing that is!) They do also act as a window for your child to have with the rest of the world. Good and bad of course. I found that talking to my kid’s about the perils of the internet and outside world helped a little but naturally they keep that part of their life close to their chest and it is a difficult nut to crack. Ultimately you know your kid’s and if their behavior changes then something is usually a miss. So in conclusion smartphones are here to stay and they would have asked for one eventually anyway.
- Pretend that I have never experienced what they are going through and not use the line “When I was your age …..”
This is a difficult one because it is so natural to compare your younger life with the life of your kid’s. You assume that they are just like you were and you try to impart your wisdom on them, Often it is received with “Dad, you know nothing!” So holding my tongue is the best tactic. I try to subtly suggest rather than to say I did this when I was your age etc.
So the teenage years are like riding a roller coaster, up and down, exciting and scary. Embrace them, battle through them and ultimately enjoy watching your little caterpillars blossom into beautiful butterflies and remember they are not teenagers forever and one day they will hopefully have their own teenagers to enact revenge on them!