How to Respond to the Challenges of Parenting Teens

Parenting a teen offers a whole new set of challenges compared to raising younger children. Teenagers are going through a number of changes, and as their parent, you need to help them through this volatile time even when the last thing they may seem to want is having you around. Your adolescent child still very much needs you, however loathe they may be to admit it, and the tips below can help ensure that you can provide them with guidance and stability.

Stay Supportive

One way to think about these years is that your child’s job is to start pulling away from you and exploring their independence. Your job is to show them you love them unconditionally and are there for them. While it can feel like these two aims are at odds, they are not. If your teen pushes away your efforts to spend time with them and talk to them, you can still keep trying without smothering. Even being in the same room together doing different tasks could prompt your teen to open up to you. Make an effort to listen to your child without judgment.

Set Boundaries

Unconditional love does not mean that anything goes. You can still insist that your teen behaves appropriately, obeying household rules and speaking to you respectfully. It is better to set expectations for behavior than insisting on certain achievements, such as grades. Ideally, you and the other parent should be on the same page regarding these expectations as well as rules and consequences. This is the time to present a united front if possible. Your teen wants consistency and boundaries even as they insist that the opposite is true.

Planning for College

Your teen will probably be looking ahead to life after high school, and for many, this means college. You can talk to your child about where they might want to go, what they might study and how they will pay for it. You can help your child find loans, scholarships, grants and other ways to fund their education. If you’re like a lot of parents, you may still be paying down your own student loans. Keep in mind that if money feels tight as your child’s needs increase, you could look into refinancing your loans with a private lender. This could lower your monthly payments and save you money.

Stay Involved

You should make sure that you spend some time getting to know your child’s friends. Keep in mind that the teen years are a time of rapid change. Listen to your teen about what they enjoy, their taste and what they think about things. One mistake parents often make is not realizing and respecting how their children are changing. Even though it may seem like your 8-year-old became a teenager very quickly, remember that those younger years seem very far away from your child’s perspective. That’s why your child rolls their eyes at you when you say, “but you always liked playing soccer” because from their point of view, they have not liked playing soccer for a very long time. It’s okay if they’re annoyed at you; your job is to let your teen be their own person, even when it’s not who you thought they would be.

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