“What’s More Important: Your Ego or Hearing Your Child?” ― C. Lynn Williams, Trying to Stay Sane While Raising Your Teen
Many a time, parents express fatigue, disillusionment, sadness, depression and utter despair, when talking about their teen children. They repeatedly complain to each other how one teen is worse than the other and that there is no way of solving their never-ending problems. Instead of helping each other out, these parents embark on an endless journey of complaints and lamentations. Although these parents’ feelings may be justified, I believe that parenting at whatever stage of a child’s life is as challenging as it is fun.
As the complaints continue, it is important to sometimes take a walk into the teen’s life and carry out a self-examination or self-assessment. How do we treat our ‘know-it-all’ teens? Would we like to be treated in the same way as we do to them? Where did we go wrong and how can we correct that? The answers to these questions may very well be the root to developing better relationships in our families.
Below are some of the reasons why your teens won’t listen to you:
Too many rigid rules: While it is good to keep your child in check, it is important to keep in mind that there are limits to how many dos and don’ts you can push to someone; be it a child, a teen or an adult. There is such a thing as ‘rules fatigue’ and loss of freedom. Once an individual gets saturated, he/she no longer cares about the consequences. The rebellion begins in an effort to gain back freedom. As a parent, trying to explore other ways of communication would greatly improve the rate of positive response from your teen.
Lack of bonding and child alienation: sometimes a child is left to do whatever they want ‘in their room’. The child is left to discover life on his/her own. The parents apparently have no time for the ‘grown’ child. As the bond becomes severed from infancy to teenage, the child feels alienated and develops a sense of being a ‘lone wolf’ in the house. He/she starts to explore the world in his/her own way on his/her own terms. The teen, therefore, finds no urgency in doing whatever the parent asks them to do. Parents should never end the bond between themselves and their children as they grow older. This also makes it easy for the parent to become the teen’s confidant and mentor.
Poor communication methods: These include yelling, use of intimidating words or actions, issuing one threat after another, indecent language, name calling etc. The result of negative repeated talk is a blocked mind and spirit. The teen will eventually plan or devise a getaway method such as running from home, getting back home late, or spending more and more time on their own. Gentle diplomatic talk and discussion can win over the child. Sometimes parents talk to their children through the rooms, addressing very important issues. When the children say they did not hear or understand, the parents blow up in anger. Always have a face-to-face discussion when you are talking to your children about matters which you require feedback. If it is not possible, ask them to repeat what you said to confirm that they got the point.
General lack of respect for the child at home: Some parents tend to disrespect their teen child by calling them nasty names, teasing them negatively, treating them as infants, snooping unnecessarily, mistrusting them, killing their confidence, humiliating them in public and acting like a sleuth when around them. This makes them feel dominated and abused psychologically. In response, they will give the parents a ‘silence treatment’ and avoid sharing their feelings with them. Remember that children are their own independent human beings and would love their space and time as well. Treat them like responsible beings and they will behave as treated.
Poor role modeling: This happens if the parent is doing the exact thing he/she is ordering the child not to do. Always remember that children learn more from observation than from listening. It is paramount for the parent to walk the talk and serve what he/she drinks.
Peer Pressure: The teen always yearns to belong. If he does not get that need satisfied at home, he/she will find a way to meet that need from the peers. As we all know, the teenage peers are not always the best source of advice and ideas. A teen empowered at home will have a higher self- esteem and will not stoop too low to impress the peers. The teen will also have a sound judgement to distinguish between what to listen to from the peers and what is an utter waste of time and energy.
Health and Medical reasons: In some cases, the child may be mentally ill, depressed, or under some influence of drugs. This will require more than just the parent to intervene. Medical and psychological expertise should be sought as soon as the parents notice a sudden radical change in the teen’s behaviour. Whatever the challenges you may be facing with your teen child or any other child, remember that the child was once a clean slate, an empty brain, a tender being. You had and still have a role to mould it to what it should be. Your child now is mainly a result of the input you gave or did not give.
Moving forward, complaining will not change things; active sound and sensible participation in the child’s life may change the course of his/her life for the better.
To a better parenting…