5 Tips on cultivating a healthy parent-teenager relationship
The transition from childhood to adulthood comes with a lot of challenges which teenagers often get caught up in. Some of these range from psychological to emotional and physical issues. In order to help them through this phase, there is a need to cultivate a healthy relationship, which this article seeks to address.
In order to find out more about cultivating this healthy relationship, we paid a visit to an education expert at the National Inspectorate Board of the Ministry of Education, Ghana. Ms Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam who is the Executive Secretary of the Board had some few things to share with us. According to her, this healthy relationship does not start immediately at puberty, but way before that stage. Therefore, it is advisable to start bonding with your younger ones to ensure a better relationship with them before they mature.
The following tips can help keep your relationship with your teenager solid for both sides:
Spend time with them
Teens really love it when their parents get to spend time with them, no matter how little. It is therefore advisable to take some time off busy schedules to get to know them more. You could do this by taking advantage of dinner times or car travel to start a conversation with them to catch up on the day’s activities. Also, you can do some family activities like shopping, barbecue, and car washing together.
On the contrary, some parents only make time when there is a serious issue pending, which according to Ms. Cynthia, is not the best approach. These little but powerful actions strengthen the bond between you and your teenage child and show them that you care and are always there for them.
Communicate your expectations
There is no doubt the expectations parents have of their teenage children – from putting up good behaviour, getting straight As, coming on top in after-school activities, having a clean slate and the list goes on and on. In order to see such results, discuss with them what you expect and what you suggest can help them. In doing so, you are encouraged to avoid comparing them to others since it may lead to low self-esteem.
What you should bear in mind as a parent, is that not all your expectations would be met. So, what do you do in case of bad grades, social media addiction, bullying, stealing, etc.? Though such news may be heart-breaking, Ms. Cynthia encourages parents to keep their cool and avoid judging or overreacting. Rather, sit them down and find out what led to their actions and together, draw a roadmap to recovery. Communicating your expectations, breeds a feeling of understanding, respect, and value, hence strengthening your relationships.
Let them know you are in charge
Though you have a young adult in the house, you must let him or her know that you are the one in charge. Your job is to groom your teen to become an independent and responsible adult. In doing this, there is the need to set boundaries at home such as when to go out, bedtime, punishment for breaking rules, etc. Although setting boundaries is good, Ms. Cynthia advises parents not to go to the extreme by being too harsh. Some parents make the home too strict that the children never feel free to express themselves. In addition, some parents even hardly complement their teens on their successes or achievements.
However, what Cynthia advises in situations of constant rebellion is the withdrawal of certain privileges as a check. For example, you could temporarily cut their pocket money or refuse permission to go for a particular program. While doing this, explain to them the reasons you are taking such actions – let them know that privileges go with responsibilities.
Be a role model
Our children pay more attention to our actions than to our advice. Therefore, as a parent, you are to be cautious of what you do before them. For example, telling your teenager to exhibit time-consciousness when you hardly make it on time to work or events paints a different picture. Consequently, he or she is likely to question your integrity and disobey your rules on such behavior. Simply put, practice what you preach. Setting a good example for your teenager reduces conflicts and confrontations, which lead to a sweeter relationship between the two of you.
Give them room to be themselves and support them
As a parent, you definitely want to see your ward succeed in all of his or her endeavours – from attending the best colleges to ending up with a well-paying and stable career. In ensuring that our teens make the right choices, we sometimes end up forcing our career goals on them without exploring their talents or desires.
According to Ms. Cynthia, this may be an old-fashioned way of thinking which could lead to failure or disappointment. On the contrary, parents should try and be a guide to them and help in weighing the pros and cons of various careers. Becoming a mentor and guide to them rather than a tyrant will save a lot of future heart-breaks and disappointments.
Above all, though being a parent to teenagers, is not that easy, cultivating a positive relationship with them will go a long way to ensure success in becoming great, responsible and successful adults. We wish you all the best.