Parents today are facing a massive challenge. Especially parents of teens. Here are some insights that I hope will help you and your child find success.
From that first screaming moment you catch that little bundle of joy you know pressure.
Suddenly you have another human being whose whole life is in your hands. So much responsibility. So little time, preparation and training.
A total joy! Am I right?
I just had my first child. Well my wife did. Our first child, a son. He’s just turning one this week. In that time, I realized one really big thing.
Just how little parents know about children.
I listen to my wife’s worries and anxiety about everything and I feel weird, because I don’t really freak out about these things. I realize it’s because I have training. As a teacher I know kids. I’ve been trained to work with kids. I’ve seen the journey of growing up and I understand how it all works.
Even still it’s a crazy big job. So many decisions and every one of them feels like such a massive moment. You hope and you pray you don’t mess up.
We’re working it out and I think most parents work it out pretty well.
However, I’m seeing we’re the big problem lies — indecision. If parents had a manual, then they could simply apply the formula and follow the rule. Then they could be totally confident in their parenting.
However there is no manual.
We must decide everything. What if we get it wrong?
What if we pressure too much? What if not enough? What if we’re too strict? What if too lenient? What if too much TV? What if not enough freedom? You get the idea.
However, I’m assuming we can all get through the early stages. I mean those little bundles of joy are so little and they love us so much. We can just muddle our way through it, ‘fake it until we make it’, and fix any problems down the track.
The big problems arise when they turn into teens.
Obviously, a lot of the issues with teens are established in earlier childhood. However, at the end of the day, I believe as long as we are present and doing our best, our little children will have the support to grow up well.
The trick is we must find the time to be present.
Even still, even if we do all the right things in early childhood, the teen years are a worry.
The Problem with teens
Teens go from sweet and pliant little lovelies, who adore mummy and daddy, into these little hormone fueled animals who just want to rebel, break the rules, experiment, feel the danger, get crazy … well come on, most of us have been there. I know I was and I see it all the time with my students in the classroom. Now they’re actually a great bunch of kids, and most are doing well, however, many are still going through those teenage crazy days.
I see parents come in for parent teacher interviews and it’s clear, they have no idea what to do. Or, they come in with a completely skewed view of what their children are really like. And it’s clear, they don’t really know what kids are like these days. No one prepared them for this and they just don’t know how to work things out.
Many are worried about how to raise their teens and many don’t really understand the issues.
What are the big issues you children face?
Stress, fear, uncertainty, insecurities, the lack of direction, the desire to be different but the fear of not fitting in with the crowd, are big issues our children will face.
Bullying, drugs, bad influences, career choices, lifestyle choices, sex and sexual relations, gender and identity … and so much more, are all serious issues all children will face.
Then there’s the obvious worst case scenario that some parents really do fear; crime, depression, underage pregnancy, STD’s, suicide.
Do you know what issues your kids are going through?
Do you know how to assist them?
I’m not a psych professor, however, these are the real issues I’ve seen played out in the lives of our children.
Do you know the biggest problem of all?
You can’t really help and school doesn’t really help.
I know that sounds really condescending or harsh, or straight up wrong. Of course you do help and school does help. However, the truth of the matter is, no child wants to talk to their father, or mother, about sex. No child wants to be totally truthful and honest with their parents, with school or out in the open. Few children will admit they are stressed, depressed, or addicted. They are under too much pressure to fit in and be normal.
Their friends are maybe the only people they talk too. Are they experts? Or, are they likely to be in the same boat?
The celebrities they adore are probably the ones they listen too. Are they experts? Are they stable individuals who offer wisdom and support? I’m not sure.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something more … well ‘professional’, but still ‘accessible’?
(I’m sure there’s lots of great programs out there. If you know of any, please feel free to share in the comments.)
The big problem
The main problem is that our children are growing up with all these issues, but they’re not going to go to the gatekeepers of knowledge and say, “give me the answers!”
I never did.
Here is the great irony of growing up.
Children absolutely want someone to save them from making mistakes, however, they can’t ask for it. They are psychologically wired to reject authority and driven to be ‘cool’ — basically to define themselves and establish their voice amongst their peers. This means a whole lot of posturing and often self denial, acting and pretending that everything all makes sense.
And the system doesn’t really proactively address this need. Ideally, there would be actual education on life and all these major issues and concerns. However, there’s no time between all the other subjects that are deemed essential to life in the 21st century.
Therefore, we need to be proactive, see what our children need and offer them guidance in a language that is acceptable to them. Easy, right?
How can you help your child?
Given all these issues, how do we help our kids? Once again, I know this is not all kids. Many of our children will go through the growing up process and get the usual dings and scrapes and be just fine.
However, my question to begin was for those parents who were scared, worried, about how they raise their kids in light of all that can go wrong.
So what can we do?
We need to be aware of all these issues.
We need to know our child and engage with them on common ground.
We need to offer insight, but give them room to make decisions, or to provide their ideas and voice their opinions about the big issues of life.
Bring down the walls
We tend to put up a big boundary of expectations. We expect kids to be lazy and irresponsible, and we jump in to correct for these biases. Really, our kids tend to care way more than we think. They need to be able to show it and feel confident in trying.
However, we usually do jump in based on these stereotypes. Then they resist us because they’re ready to be knocked down. They tend to think parents and teachers are harsh judges, probably because we are always judging. We need to try and show them the truth, which is we care more than they think.
What’s the solution?
We parents need to stay strong. We need to support each other. We need to work with teachers and schools and health care professionals. We also need to start making the discussion a much more mainstream issue. Are there ways we can revolutionize schools to help fix some of these problems? Or is there programs that parents can turn to that can bridge this communication gap?
Either way, we need to work as a team.
But way, way, way, more than that, we need to remember our children are on our team. They don’t need us to have all the answers. They don’t need us to play a role. They don’t want perfection.
They want love, truth, real, and respect.
I know that sounds ridiculously sentimental, but I think any teacher will tell you, your teens are surprisingly sentimental.
- They want love — they absolutely need to know you care.
- They want truth — they want to know you’re not going to bullshit them.
- They want you to be real — they hate fake. They have burning questions eating them up and when you show them fake they feel like fake’s the way to be. Then they feel they have to fake it and faking it makes them hate you.
- They need respect. And here’s the rub. They need to respect you. If you are full of it, weak, useless, don’t care, inconsistent, unfair, or you don’t follow through, that does more damage than all the rest. You are their parents. You are their tower of strength. You need to show them you are strong enough to protect them, smart enough to chart the course and fair enough to say when you are wrong. Then they need your respect of them, so they can grow and show you they are capable of rising to fill your shoes.
Life is not perfect. We will never have a perfect system. And the game of parenting and growing up is always changing. However, we can find a way to do things right.
If we approach this ‘game’ with fear, apprehension and indecision, we will make bad mistakes. They won’t necessarily be the bad mistakes of poor decisions, they will be the mistakes of poor parenting.
A parent must be a leader. Our children need that. A good leader is one who leads from the front, inspires those in their care, serves them and brings out the best in those they lead.
Our children need us to be positive, empowered and direct in our approach to life. If we are scared, weak, wishy washy, indecisive, absent and/or negative, then our children will feel the fear, the fake, and the uncertainty of life and they will take those subconscious messages into their days.
Start by finding your leadership. Find your positive voice. Establish your empowered approach to life. And approach parenting your child with positive, empowering energy. Get excited. Set a beautiful picture of the future. Set your children to follow you on a path to success in life. Get them excited about life and not scared of the unknown.
All the best, and if you could use more content to keep you, or your child, strive towards success, keep checking in, or join the team.
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Joe Brown is a teacher, a writer and an amateur investor. He has dedicated his life to finding success, by investing in personal development and striving for financial freedom. He likes to write about current events, self-improvement and investing. He strives to help his readers by inspiring them to achieve their own personal goals in personal and financial investing.