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As parents, our need is to be needed; as teenagers their need is not to need us. This conflict is real: we experience it daily as we help those we love become independent of us- Dr.Haim G.Ginott (between parent and teenager
Hello all, my name is Juhi. To begin with I am a mother of two teenagers, sailing in the same boat just like many of you. I have worked as a student counselor for children across all age groups for more than 5 years and have worked in the field of education for more than 13 years.
As a counselor I have worked with a large number of students..Some having emotional Issues, some behavioral and some academic. In my experience of working with children across all age groups I have come to realize that the teenagers are the most misunderstood lot.
I have spoken to many parents who have shared similar apprehensions and doubts about their children.
• “When my kids were little they were angels. But they are 12 and 15 now, and I find myself facing a whole new set of problems. It’s like suddenly they have grown horns and tails”.
• “I am a single mother, and my 14 year old son has started hanging out with some of the worst kids in school. His grades are falling. I keep telling him to stay away but he won’t listen.”
• “I am so upset. My 13 year old is always on phone. Recently I saw a text from a boy in her class proposing her. When I asked her she grew wild and accused me of spying.I don’t know what to do? Should I call his parents? Should I report it to the school”
• “I saw cut marks on my daughter’s wrist. She is doing well in her studies and has friends. She doesn’t talk much. Is there something I am not seeing?”
• “My son is always on the couch watching T.V or playing with his PS3. I have enrolled him in basket ball classes but he shows no interest at all”
These are just a few of the concerns parents have expressed and sought guidance about. I empathize with the parents. What a different world we live in today!! …….But have times really changed that much? Didn’t we and our friends worry about peer pressure or be curious about drugs and sex. But somehow what we hear today seems worse and scarier.
What has made this stage of life so difficult? It wasn’t as if we hadn’t been warned. From the time our kids were born we heard, “enjoy them now while they’re still small”…..Little children ,little problems; big children ,big problems” Over and over again we were told that one day this sweet child of ours would turn into a sullen stranger who would criticize our taste, challenge our rules, and reject our values.
So even though we were somewhere prepared for changes in our children’s beahviour,no one prepared us for our feelings of loss.
Loss of old, close relationship (who is this strange person living in our home?)
Loss of confidence (why is she acting this way? Where have I gone wrong?)
Loss of satisfaction of being needed (mom dad you can go ,I don’t want to come with you for the movie, I would rather go with my friends)
Loss of the sense of ourselves as all powerful protectors who could keep our children safe from harm (she has gone out with her friends. Where is she? What is she doing?)
And even greater than our sense of loss was our fear(how do we get through these difficult years?)
Why wouldn’t we feel overwhelmed?
Its not hard to understand why some of us react by getting tough, punish any act of impudence, however minor and keep our belligerent teen on a short leash. we can also understand why some of us would give up, throw our hands up and look the other way and hope for the best. Yet both these approaches-“do as I say” or ‘do what you want” cut off the possibility of communication.
Why would any young child be open with a parent who is punitive and why would any teenager seek guidance from a parent who is permissive. Yet our teenagers’ well being----sometimes their very safety ----- lies in having access to the thoughts and values of their parents. Teenagers need to be able to explore options with a grownup who will listen to them non judgmentally and help them make responsible decisions.
Who other than mom and dad will be there for them day in and day out, through these critical years to help them counter the seductive messages of the media? Who will help them resist the pressure of their peers? Who will help them cope with the cliques and cruelties and he longing for being accepted, the fear of rejection, the terrors, excitement and confusion of adolescence.
Living with a teenager can be overwhelming. I know. But remember how we hung on during our turbulent teenage years to the skills we had learnt and how they helped us navigate the roughest waters without going under. Now it is time to pass on to others what had been so meaningful to us.And to learn from this current generation what would be meaning ful to them.