Updated: Apr 10, 2020
Adolescence marks the transition from childhood into adulthood. During this transition, adolescents typically move away from the parental dependence they craved during childhood, as they want to become independent individuals. This has an impact on family relationships.
Educational psychologist at Crawford College Lonehill (part of the Advtech group), Jolene Macintosh says that typically during adolescence, adolescents become closer to their peers and withdraw from their parents. This desire for independence is often seen as a barrier to parental involvement. However, whether they want to admit it or not, adolescents need their parents’ input to help them navigate this transitional period in their lives. Adolescents may simply prefer certain types of involvement to others. This raises the question: “What do teens need most from their parents?”
1. Teenagers need parental involvement
Many parents are faced with a lot of responsibility and are under a lot of pressure. Work and other commitments often infringe on family time. It is, however, important to set aside time for quality face-to-face time with your child. This will promote communication and assure your child that you are available and accessible. Show interest in your child’s extramural activities and attend school events. Your schedule may prevent you from attending all activities, but try to attend the important events. Engage in meaningful conversations with your child about topics that interest them. Showing an interest in your child’s hobbies, extramural activities and school life shows them that their lives are important to you.
2. Teenagers need a sense of freedom and a trusting relationship with their parents
Teenagers want a sense of responsibility and they gain confidence when they can master tasks. During the teenage years, parents should start giving their children more responsibility. This process of letting go is often a stressful period for parents, as they are afraid that their teenagers may make the wrong decisions. Parents need to find a balance between simultaneously guiding their children and slowly letting go. Give your teenagers choices and responsibilities appropriate for their age. Teenagers want to feel like they have a sense of control and they want to make decisions for themselves. Involving teenagers in family decisions, such as rules and consequences for transgressing them, gives them a sense of being heard and it shows them the importance of people working together.
Adolescence often marks the beginning of a more active social life. Adolescents want to engage in social activities and often request to attend parties and other social gatherings. Parents are often apprehensive about allowing their children to attend social gatherings, as they are worried that their children may fall prey to peer pressure and that they will engage in risky behaviours. Adolescents want the chance to prove that they can be trusted. Discuss your concerns with your child and give them the opportunity to prove that they can carry themselves in social situations.
3. Teenagers want to communicate
Teenagers want to be heard. During this developmental phase, they form their own opinions and beliefs about the world around them. Give your child the opportunity to share their point of view on various issues. Don’t criticise or ridicule your child. Show them and their opinions the respect you want them to show towards you and others. Catch up with your child whenever you have the opportunity. When you have a busy week, make a fixed arrangement where you can spend some one-on-one time with your child. Engaging in conversations with teenagers can be satisfying to both parents and teenagers.
4. Teenagers need their parents to act as role models
During adolescence, teenagers are faced with various decisions. Often their decision-making is dependent on their personal value system. Teenagers notice what their parents say and do and parents can reinforce values by setting a good example. If parents follow a healthy lifestyle, show respect towards others, value education, etc., teenagers are likely to follow their example.
5. Teenagers need unconditional love
No adolescent is perfect and it is guaranteed that your child will push your buttons more than once during their teenage years. Some situations may be very challenging and it is easy to be disappointed in your child’s behaviour. It is during these times that adolescents need reassurance that their parents love them unconditionally without any limitations. Your teenager needs the assurance that you will always support them even if you disapprove of their behaviour. This provides them with a sense of security. Parents have the right to be angry and display it, however, the power of your influence lies in the unconditional love you maintain for your child.
BY JOLENE MACINTOSH. IMAGE: PIXABAY.