This post is also available in: French
Teenage angst is something most of us remember all too well. Just a few things that come to mind are the first heartbreak, the peer pressure, the quest to look good, and the need to fit in. Those are pressures that we look back upon and smile at knowing that we are now too old and too wise to ever be overly concerned with them again. And if you’re like me then they’re also shocked that you let those things bother you so much. But the majority of teenagers don’t see those things as trivial and as a parent you’ll see them struggling with things that you too found difficult at that young age. Here are some of the trials and tribulations of parenting a teenager and how you can best support your child through these difficult years.
Social Media And the Pressure to Look Good
When we were young, social media wasn’t invented yet. Our circle of friends didn’t extend beyond the four walls of our school. The youth of today has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of “friends” from all corners of the globe on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The need to keep up, look good, and compete is stronger than ever.
In this fast-paced, competitive world it’s important that your teen considers you to be approachable. That way they feel comfortable coming to you with any worries. They need to feel confident that you are taking their issues seriously and that you won’t belittle their problems as something trivial. Teenage girls, in particular, often feel pressure to maintain a thin figure at the detriment of their health. It’s vital that you foster positive relationships with food and exercise and that you praise your children for their appearance and celebrate their individuality.
Teenage angst, when not addressed early enough, can quickly spiral into a depression that is difficult to emerge from. Like anyone struggling with a mental illness, your child will retreat and isolate themselves. It’s vital that you look out for signs of self-harm and self-neglect using a checklist like the one found at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net. Try to establish an intervention as early as possible too.
Depression can also be the beginning of something much deeper. When parenting a teenager, you need to do all in your power to halt it before it takes hold. Your child may fall in with the wrong crowd and feel pressured into activities that they wouldn’t otherwise do but engage in to fit in. That could mean they take drugs and drink alcohol.
Those substances could turn into the initial stages of addiction for your teen. That’s a serious statement so step in early and seek the help of specialists at a rehab facility such as www.orlandorecovery.com if needed. Encourage your child to confront their issues head on and with your love and support. Most recovery centers have many treatment options available, from outpatient care to a residential program, to help your child on the road to recovery.
It’s important that you take any relationship that your child has seriously. And teenage relationships can get serious very quickly. Both your child and their partner may feel like they are in love and have a genuine future together. Don’t belittle this or you run the risk of driving your child away into a secretive and possibly dangerous relationship.
Taking a sincere interest in the relationship and supporting your child might help prevent an unwanted pregnancy or your child developing unhealthy attitudes about relationships. It can be very difficult to be supportive when parenting a teenager though. That’s especially true if you don’t particularly like your teen’s choice of partner. If you forbid the relationship from the start, thought, this will be like a red rag to a bull and they’ll carry on behind your back. The outcomes there could be… well, you get the picture.
Instead, sit down with your teen and their love interest to set some ground rules. Don’t just enforce rules but also listen to what they have to say about the situation. Treat them like adults, and they are more likely to respond in a respectful way.
Yes, it’s easy to forget just how traumatic the teenage years can be. It is even more important in this day and age that you listen to your child though. Address their concerns and be supportive when parenting a teenager, even on the most difficult days.
This post is also available in: French