Our relationship is cold, I feel guilty and I just can’t seem to get through to her, and I feel disappointed by everything she does… I feel like everything she’s doing is to spite me. She won’t talk to me – I don’t even think that she knows how to express her feelings – about anything, friends, school, nothing. I used different forms of punishment: not allowing her to go out, restrictions on her phone, no shopping… All in vain… My job doesn’t allow me to spend a lot of time with her. I leave in the morning, before she does, and I come home in the evening around 7pm, which offers her the chance to do whatever she wants,’’ Michelle writes to us, looking for help and solutions.
Teenage years usually take parents by surprise. Adults have a hard time accepting that the boy or girl who listened to them just yesterday has suddenly morphed into this rebellious, free-spirited being that seems to be doing everything just to spite them. And from this point on, a long row of conflicts occurs, which can seriously and permanently damage the relationship between parents and children.
Most parents ask their teenage child to do things the same way the used to, and to keep on listening to them. But this is impossible for a young person who is undergoing real, strong, physical, hormonal and emotional changes. A teenager is neither a child, nor a grown up. He lives every emotion to the fullest, both positive and negative; he discovers new aspects of this world, which he hasn’t even suspected so far.
We’ve all been there. You have to remember how all your interests and wishes changed around the age of 12 – 14. Maybe you had a good relationship with your parents at the time, maybe you felt like you were constantly waging war with them, and everything seemed like a small, hard-earned victory – like being allowed to come home late. No matter how your teenage years were, you must have some idea about what a teenager feels like. Today, as a grown-up, you probably realize that your parents were right, but you just couldn’t accept that then. You kept feeling the need to make yourself heard, to make decisions, to find yourself and to introduce yourself to the world in a certain way.
And now, that you remember who you were during your teenage years, you can imagine what your teenage child must go through. Even if the situation is different, your needs are the same you had at that age.
And since you’ve already crossed the bridge, your child is currently on, and since he hasn’t gotten to where you are yet, you are the only one of the two of you who can show some real understanding and who can take the proper steps for a better relationship.
Why the old ways won’t work with teenagers
The first thing parents do when it comes to their teenagers is use the same education methods that worked so far. But these methods aren’t just inappropriate but they damage the way they communicate with their children.
A teenager is no longer afraid of punishment, because he feels strong enough to fight back and, if need arose, he could do so physically, as a reaction to a physical aggression. He’s no longer afraid of interdictions, thinking: “What could they possibly do?”
Rewards aren’t enough anymore, since you can’t really offer anything that would satisfy his real desires anymore. And, if you two don’t communicate properly, you might not even know what those are.
During his teenage years, your child has already learned all the communication patterns from you, and he’ll fight you with your own weapons. You’re only reaping what you sowed during his childhood.
What can you do?
Yes, the situation is complicated, but don’t be afraid, even if you sometimes feel hopeless.
If you really want to establish a proper communication flow with your teenage child, and really understand him during this important time in his life, keep reading this article and try any of the solutions we’re suggesting.
And if you’re not really convinced that all this effort is worth it, than just think about how much your teenage years influenced the decisions you took with regard to your loved ones. That’s what’s happening to your child. And if you’re not there for him now, you might not be able to be there when he’s 30 or 40 either, because it will be hard for him to welcome you back into his life.
On the next page, you will find 9 suggestions that are easy to a try and that will take your relationship with your teenage child to the level you desire: