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In the current scenario, I am at a stage of my life where I am dealing with 4 persons of different kinds! One is my not-so-young husband, second is my teen son, third is my preteen daughter, and last but not the least its the hyper me!!
Every stage of parenting brings challenges but when the kids are babies, toddlers and younger kids they can still be molded and taught the way we wish to as their thought process and individuality is still in the developing stage. But once your child hits the preteen mode things start to change. Your child starts to assert his/her individuality more than before which sometimes parents consider to be defiance. Defiance it is not, its just expressing what they feel is right!
Right now, I am raising a hormonally-charged teen son and a daughter who is soon going to hit 10. Kids these days grow up much faster primarily because of two reasons; exposure to a lot of things much earlier and parents being more friendlier. There are good days and bad days where I feel like that I can't handle the handful duo anymore! I tell them, "Don't forget buddies that as you are growing up younger, your mom is growing older"!
But as in all the other stages where each parent tries to find the "right" way out or strike a balance raising these two kids of mine in this crucial stages has taught me a few things.
1. Allow them to speak their minds. Sometimes you might find it shocking when out of nowhere your child might utter the word "fuck" without even knowing what it means; he/she might have heard it somewhere and found it funny! Instead of rebuking, ask them where they heard it and if they know what it means. As a parent we are the ones who can help them to differentiate between right and wrong.
2. Don't be overtly protective. As a mom, I am always at my wits end about my kids' protection. At the same time, I cannot keep them confined at home. My son goes to meet his friends, go for his classes in the auto or by his cycle in the horrible traffic of Mumbai. Every time he reaches his destination and gives me a call or messages me am I relieved. For daughters, the situation is getting worse each day but that doesn't mean I don't ask my daughter to get me stuff from the store in the vicinity. She goes to play out with her friends alone in the next building. Later on as she grows up I have to give her the same freedom as I have given my son. A mother's life is filled with constant worries but we need to allow them to be "free"..
3. Stop nagging and lecturing. Frankly, I still have to overcome this a little more! Nobody likes to be nagged or lectured, isn't it? My teen son now in class 10 is constantly juggling between school, classes, football practice and studies and I is tired by the end of the day. I know he is in no mood to listen to my long lectures after all this! We talk, sometimes even silence works!
4. The bridge of communication should always be open. Yes, we all know it still at times forget it! Clash of opinions is bound to happen. But that doesn't mean we should stop talking. A teenager goes throw a lot of changes; hormonal changes, peer pressure, pressure of career, and we need to think from their perspective too. They are always charged up, we should act as their anchors.
5. Do not hesitate to talk about biological changes both with son and daughter. Kids hit puberty earlier now. Instead of questioning why and how, as a parent we should prepare them for it. Girls specially need to be taught not to be ashamed of their bodies. I have talked about periods with both my son and daughter. I can see changes in my daughter's body now and talk to her about it casually.
6. Be one of them at times. No teenager would like his/her parent to behave like a "teen" publicly or in front of their friends. But there are times when I share a joke with my son, watch a humorous video with my daughter, talk about the current pop sensations or sports stars. When their friends come over, both me and my husband are friendly with them but not intrusive. Everyone needs space.
7. Now, the "I-said-so" generation of parents is gone. Kids want logic for everything. So, if you are asking them not to do a certain thing, explain them why. Not allowing gadgets or junk ever is not going to work as they will go out and do the opposite. Be strict but be moderate.
Every mother knows how to raise her children, what's best for them. Its simply what my experiences or mistakes have taught me or are still teaching me that I felt like sharing..