Parenting teenagers is full of ups and downs. As children get older, they seek independence and battle against their parents for control of their lives. Struggles between parents and teens can be difficult to overcome, but experts say there are various tips that can lead to uplifting relationships with your teen.
Bretia Gordon, a family and child development regioinal agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, talked about how parents can work through the teenage years while keeping conflict to a minimum.
“Based on my experience, it seems to be around pre-teen years (between 9-12) when children are beginning to learn who they are and become more independent,” Gordon said.
Allowing teens to be independent in decision-making, monitoring their use of technology and working to spend more time together are three elements that can produce positive parent-teen relationships.
As teens become independent, they learn to depend more on themselves and less on their parents. Although this can be difficult for some parents, it is a necessary transition period for teens to become adults.
Parents can play a huge part in the transition, gradually giving their teenagers more and more responsibilities.
Gordon talked about the benefits that come from parents allowing their children to make decisions on their own, while also stating the importance of limits.
“Parents should allow their teens to learn and make their own mistakes within reason,” Gordon said. “Teens need a healthy sense of individuality and independence but parents should create healthy boundaries.”
Ben Baber, a senior at Auburn University, said he felt respected when his parents allowed him to make his own decisions, but that he also knew not to push the limits.
“My parents earned my respect at a young age by letting me make choices independently,” Baber said. “Although I was allowed to do certain things on my own, I knew there were unspoken boundaries. If I wanted to continue to have the luxury of individuality, I had to in turn respect the boundaries.”
Be Mindful of Technology Usage
A study by U.K. communications regulator, Ofcom, said that 14 and 15-year olds are the most “technology-savvy” millennium generation. Teens are teaching their parents and grandparents how to use their computers, phones and tablets.
Gordon says there is a link between the increase in technology usage and effects on parent-teen relationships.
“Technology plays a major role in adolescent relationships with their parents,” Gordon said. “They are able to create and maintain relationships with other people of all ages. It gives them a sense of independence, freedom and power that they do not have with their parents.”
As technology continues to evolve, parenting techniques will need to adjust as well. Technology grants teens unlimited possibilities. Parents need to monitor the use of technology and teens need to understand the sense of freedom that comes with having access to technology.
Spend Time with Your Teens
Parents who persistently spend quality time with their children are more likely to develop a special bond with their child, compared to those who do not.
Children who spend lots of time with their parents feel more loved, have an opportunity to model their parents’ behavior and are more likely to voice their thoughts and feelings. These benefits are a result of the child feeling a close connection to parents.
Gordon said there are many ways parents can spend more time with their teens.
“They can participate in activities that their teens enjoy,” Gordon said. “They can eat together as a family. They can allow their teens to participate in extra-curricular activities. The list can go on.”
Make the most of the time the two of you spend together. Do not focus a lot on behavior; instead use the time to enjoy each other. This makes it easier when you do have something serious to talk about.