Teenage brings with the need to be independent. There also stems a great need to ‘be you’. The ego state translates to a deeper level where the child wants to get into ‘autonomy’. While you have always desired as a parent that your child imbibes the best life skills naturally, there are some areas where you will have to let the teen take it over – I mean completely. As adults we know that decisions result in consequences. If it is a favorable one, then the outcome is enjoyable and if not, one has to bear the results. But such words are too heavy for a teenager who is already juggling new issues with academics, peer pressure, body image and hormones. Gentle guidance and observing is the new parenting mantra. If your child asks you for an opinion, be firm but use the right kind words. E.g. Your son is stepping out wearing a singlet to a chilly venue and this is a test of your persuasion skills, as you say, ‘Do you have a brighter Tee, especially the one with full sleeves, that will help you beat the cold?’ Thus, teenage parenting is a time for parents to rephrase and reword, so that a point is driven home.
Quote from happy mommy Yasmin Remedios, “ Kids these days mature faster. I stopped giving advice to my teenager a long time back. When she has a problem or needs my advice, she comes to me. But, she doesn’t necessarily take it. There are times when she has come to me asking for advice but disagreed with my point of view. I get that. I tell her that she needs to learn from her own mistakes. Experience is the biggest teacher. It’s time now to start treating teenagers as independent individuals but also remind them that for every action or decision, there are consequences. Real growing up begins from here. Now, I can only guide her and make sure her core values and integrity is never compromised when she makes those decisions.”
Seven tips for parents to help in the teenage decision making process
- Chalking it out – Children watch us and imitate us. They notice everything, the financial spread sheet, the way we look at price tags, feel the texture of the dress material, evaluate a coaching class, check ourselves as we pat our tummy on the mirror and also how we analyse to make a decision. Ask you teen to write down the problem area. Penning the thoughts is a better way than arguing in the head.
- Give them space – While you know you are there to guide, let them learn to make decisions. A few times they will stumble by choosing a wrong hairstyle or carrying inadequate clothes for a trip but it will help them in managing future issues.
- Tell them to sort the options – Plan A and Plan B technique is best learnt early in life. Back up plans is the best skill you can teach them. Let them evaluate the pros and cons of Teenage decision making scenarios e.g. having a house party or an eat-out party. State a budget and help them when they ask you for more options.
- Plotting and Planning – A decision needs to backed with a plan. In the plan, lies the success. Supposing your teenager has scheduled a study time table. Appreciate the same but guide them to have in it the elements of practise, self-tests, making up for lost days and also include time for co-curricular activities. Many times such plans need weekly revisions.
- Do not compare your childhood to theirs – They live in a different era, the values are same but the expression is bolder. While we requested our parents, they ‘Ask or tell’ us a decision. The exposure as well as pressure is much different. If we lived a different childhood with different pressures, they live in a new world with constant pressures too. Modify and adapt the best way out. Do empathize and use subtle words to correct them.
- Congratulate them on their decision – Decision making itself is a very bold step irrespective of whether the outcome is favourable or not. Encourage and ask them to take it in their stride. This is how they can build a strong path to future self-reliance and decision making.
- Listen to them – One of the most important things parents to teenagers need to learn is as they grow they will come to us, talk to us, bond with us when they feel. The cute toddler with open arms looking at you is now a decision maker. Give them a little time as they are passing through this phase. Once parents are able to make peace with this, we inch towards creating a stronger bond with our children.