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A Teenage Ticking Timebomb

When a person is asked what their most troubling time in their life was, it may take them a bit of time to decide. Was it that time they watched an ailing relative lose a battle with a sickness, or hearing they didn’t get into the college they wanted to? Maybe it was their first break up or getting into that habit of going to the gym. However, if you ask a parent of a difficult teenager, chances are the struggles they have experienced with their child are somewhere on the list. For a lot of parents, one of the hardest things to do is to establish the balance between safety and happiness for their child. The way parents walk this line has been examined by those in the field of psychology for decades and has been broken down into four major subsets.
Authoritarian parents are very strict and expect their word to be law. Authoritative parents have expectations, but where the authoritarian parents unyielding, authoritative parents explain the reasons for their expectations and are more understanding in dealing with their children. The third style of parenting is the permissive style, which puts power in the child’s hands and promotes the child to make their own decisions as a way of learning. The final style is uninvolved, which is essentially permissive without any concern for the child’s well being. Most believe that authoritative parenting works best, but it depends on the child. Although these styles are great mission statements for parents, they don’t really explain how to deal with every situation. Many parents try numerous tips and tricks in order to reach their teenager, but sometimes the easiest tactic is one that goes unnoticed.
As I stated in a previous blog, one of the major tools I use in working with teens is making a connection with them, which can also be applied to parenting. Making connections is integral in having a relationship with a teenager, and it is difficult for parents because they are often the most hated, unfair and selfish people on the planet, in the eyes of their children. Where a lot of parents go wrong is trying to force a connection with their teen; they will insert themselves into areas where teens are working their best to define themselves as individuals. If a teen shuts the door on a topic, don’t try to force your way in, look for another option. When your teen comes to you in one of those rare moments of hormone clarity and asks about something, jump on it. Although it could go back to fire and brimstone in mere minutes, that opening could provide the basis for a connection in the future. Another tip is to not bring up that connection in an argument. If “Eric” comes home in all his gothic glory complaining about how you placed a daily text limit of 300 on him and it’s unfair, don’t bring up the weekly chess match you share as a defense for you being a good parent. You are a good parent and bringing it up only poisons the connection in “Eric’s” dark, heavily mascara-ed eyes.
Connecting with teens is not an easy feat. It’s difficult to find a consistent interest to share with your teen because it’s hard for your teen to find a consistent interest themselves. One second, the Allman brothers are the greatest band ever, the next second Slayer is the human embodiment of pure awesomeness, only to be outdone by Lady Gaga a week later. This constant fluctuation is what allows teens to grow into well rounded adults. So when you see your daughter walking around town with highlighter green hair, a lip ring and gauges in her ears, don’t freak out and think that it’s the first step to her joining the circus. Instead, think of it being the first step to becoming a world renowned surgeon, because obviously she doesn’t get squeamish around needles.
Christopher Curran M.A.

  1. June 11, 2013 at 3:00 am

    I really like your article. It’s evident that you have a lot knowledge on this topic. Your points are well made and relatable. Thanks for writing engaging and interesting material.

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