Parenting

Parenting is probably the most important thing you will ever do. Doing it well is difficult because there simply is no rule book, no guide on how to get it right and no one has all the answers. We learn to parent from our own experiences – how we were parented, media, TV, our friends, conversations what we see and hear and think.

When our children are young as parents we organise their lives and have control; over most aspects – clothes, friends, sports, TV watching and more. As our children age they realise that to be adults they need to be responsible for their lives. When do parents hand over the control over decision making – when is the magic right time?

Most parents want to protect their child from harm, this desire invites them to try to have control over situations that a perhaps a young adult could mange themselves. It invites parents to control in order to protect. Teenagers struggle for adulthood is terribly risky and accepting teens as individuals who will have to make their own decisions about how to be an adult can be very hard.

Teens must become independent to become adult, just as they had to learn to walk and talk to grow from baby to child they have to make decisions to grow from child to adult. Just as learning to walk was risky and they could fall learning to make decisions is also risky and they can get hurt. No parent stops a child from learning to walk so parents must be encouraged to step back and allow teens to practise decision making and accepting responsibility for those decisions. If becoming independent is the task of children, then the task of parents must be to help their children reach independence by allowing them to walk (and fall), talk (and make mistakes) and slowly take control of their lives.

For teens, this struggle for adulthood is terribly risky because they risk losing the most important thing in their lives -- the love of parents. At the same time, parents may feel rejected, hurt and anxious about teens' abilities to care for themselves. Their struggle is stressful because everyone cares so greatly about each other.

Accepting teens as individuals who will have to make their own decisions about how to be an adult in the world can be extremely hard to do. But the healthy teen will grow up and do just that. Parents who reject their teen for failing to follow the parents' plans or who reject some aspect of their teen's life may find themselves painfully alienated from this person who they care about so much.

The changing parent/child relationship will encounter some problems and result in stress in families. Parents can no longer control every part of their teen's life, but they can keep the communication lines open and be a positive example for their teen to follow.

Some websites that may be useful: 

www.nzfamilies.org.nz/parenting

www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/pipeline/t-parent.htm