Being the parent of a teen is a testing time for any parent but having to deal with a teenager on your own as a single parent is even more challenging! I am a long-suffering mum of a teenage daughter and these 5 rules keep me sane and, I dare say, have improved my relationship with my teen:
1. Understand Your Teen. Think back to when you were their age and how you felt about the world around you including your parents. Don’t approach your teen’s problems with the understanding of a grown adult but put yourself into their shoes. Let them make their own experiences and learn out from their own mistakes (all within reason, of course). It’s all part of growing up.
2. Choose Your Battles. Try to focus on the important issues. Even if your teen is driving you mad with his/her constant stroppiness, focus on the fights that are worth fighting for and don’t lose your temper over trivial things. You don’t want to be arguing with your teen over everything. It will stress you both out and ruin your relationship. You don’t want to look back one day and the only memory you have of their teen years is one of constant arguing and resentfulness.
3. Find Common Interests. Try to find something you and your teen both enjoy – maybe you can even pursue a hobby together to strengthen your bond? This may be easier said than done, especially when you are a single working parent and time is scarce. It is also easy to fall into the trap of imposing your interests and tastes on your teen. Rather than doing that, open up to their interests – be it watching a football match, going to the shopping mall or talking to them about their favourite music. You will be amazed how chatty your otherwise, grumpy and reserved teen will become when you show an interest in their favourite pursuit!
4. Take Time Out. As the teenage years are all-consuming for us parents it is important to have some ‘time out’ to focus on your life and your interests. The more balanced and happy you are, the better you will respond to your teen’s sometimes erratic behaviour. Being stressed and tired will trigger you to over-react in a conflict situation and will increase the tension between you and your teen.
5. Stand by Your Teen. Never turn away from your teenage daughter or son and never threaten to stop caring even if you are hurt or disappointed by their behaviour. Don’t forget they are going through a life-changing period and their decisions are influenced by peer pressure and hormones. Try to stay informed about what is going on in their life without trying to control them. Stay in the background and offer advice when needed and always be there for them in times of disappointment.
And finally don’t forget those teenage years are wonderful years that need to be cherished. The world is your child’s oyster now and as he or she becomes more independent, you regain your independence. It is an exciting time for you both – you just need to work much harder at your relationship now. Those times of unconditional love are forever behind you.