My teenage son hates me. What did I do wrong?
Published 02/11/2009 | 05:00
My son is 15 and we always had a special relationship. We were very close. When he got in from school he couldn't wait to tell me about his day -- he always wanted to show me his work from school. He would sit and talk to me about his friends and we would do lots together -- swimming, bowling. It was really lovely.
Being a parent, grandparent, or foster parent of a teen is challenging. Suddenly you have to deal with an argumentative and rebellious young person. You find yourself asking what you did wrong, where did your sweet baby go, and where did this hostile teenager come from?
Once our children reach adolescence their bodies begin to change, signalling the beginning of adulthood. Teenagers begin to reject all the things that relate to their childhood and being a child. They no longer want parents to do or decide things for them. They stop following parents' advice because in their minds that would be the same as still being a child.
The problem is that they don't know how to act in order to be treated like a person and not like a child.
Your child is working on creating his own personality with his individual opinions, ideas and experiences. He has started to take baby-steps towards living an independent life. It is a new situation for all involved.
Clashes are often common between teens and parents. Teens get angry because they feel their parents don't respect them, and parents get angry because they aren't used to not being in control.
Between the ages of 13 and 18, your teenager will transform from a child who followed your lead and had everything done for him to a young adult, ready to take on life.
During the teenage years parents have a unique opportunity to watch their children transform from a child to an independent young adult. But these times can be quite a rollercoaster.
Teens who deal best with their problems and moods most often have parents who take time to listen and talk, parents who respect them and who are respected in return.
It is important to find time to listen to your teen and understand what they are going through. It may be when he comes in from school or when you are dropping him to his training.
Family mealtimes are vital opportunities for families to communicate. Encourage your child to discuss important issues, listen to his views.
If you don't sit down at present for meal times together I would highly recommend trying to put this process in place. It is a vital link in the family especially when communication breaks down. It is important to remember that every teenager is a unique individual and to avoid comparing them to their siblings or peers.
During a teen's adolescent years parents will find that they need to adjust their parenting style from one of total authority to a supportive, coaching style.
Some parents believe that this change, combined with giving their teen choices, makes them their friend instead of their parent. In my opinion this is not the case.
For every choice there is something the teen needs to achieve or do in return, and as parents we direct the results and set limits.
As your child gets more mature, an open relationship will develop, but having a friendly relationship with your teen does not make you their friend either. when it comes down to it, parents still make the final decisions -- friends don't.
Don't interrupt, allow them to give their opinion.
Make sure to listen to them every day -- not only when a problem arises.
Watch out for nonverbal messages -- eye contact, energy levels -- clues to your teen's feelings.
Try not to lecture. Give the facts, listen to their opinion, talk about your concerns for their welfare.
Ask open-ended questions; avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no.
Don't talk down to a teen. This will reduce their confidence.
Answering back and always having the last word, however short, seems to be a teenage habit.
Teens are not very articulate and what may appear to be 'answering back' might be in fact your child's attempt to discuss an issue. If your teen thinks you said no because you didn't understand what he was asking, in his mind he may be trying to ask in a different way.
When you know you have talked through an issue, and that your teen had a chance to state his side of the story or opinion, then I'd ignore his need to have the last word, or clearly state that I'm done talking about it.
If you feel that your teenager does not talk to you or avoids coming to you with problems that he is facing, you will have to start building the bridge that will connect the two of you.
You can start by asking questions. If you are at a point where he is not talking to you at all, your questions will have to be broken down into small segments. You will find you are pulling the answers in the beginning.
Once your teenager begins to understand that you want to know what is going on in his life and that he cannot shut you out with one-word answers, you will find he will give answers more and more willingly.
Patience and persistence will get your teenager to talk with you, but you will have to apply a lot of self-control when building a successful relationship with your teen.
arguments and opinions
When we are going through the daily drama of parenting teens it can be difficult to separate what appears to be argumentative from giving an opinion. You may be surprised to hear that your teen doesn't intend to argue with you.
They are learning conversational skills to communicate in an adult setting but sometimes teens express themselves in a very awkward and discourteous way.
Instead of asking a simple question, they often give their opinion or doubt in the same question. Your teen may not have learned that it is OK to just ask a question without having an opinion.
Their lack of communication skills can easily be perceived as criticism by parents and we get defensive.
Living under the same roof as a teenager is often irritating and painful, but more often they are entertaining and creative as well as keeping us on our toes, providing us with an insight into everything from computers to modern culture.