Adolescence is a difficult time for parents as well as teenagers. For parents, recognizing that their child is becoming an adult can be a bitter pill to swallow. An adolescent can, in many ways, still act like a child while being exposed to the growing pains of becoming an adult. Internally, adolescents struggle with their changing bodies and body image, hormones, peer pressure, relationships and stress regarding their futures. Externally, teens will be introduced to the dangers of driving, alcohol, drugs, sexual pressure and more. For a teen to make it through unscathed, a healthy support system needs to be in place.
With the staggering statistics of teen depression and suicide in these modern times, it is more important than ever that your teenager feels he or she can trust you and confide in you. The last place your child should turn to for information is his or her peers, who are often just as confused and uninformed as your adolescent. As parents, we love our children and do the best we know to help our teenagers safely make it through this difficult stage of child development. But there are some key ingredients that can help build a recipe of trust between you and your child. Follow and practice the suggestions below and you and your adolescent will be on the path to building a solid, open and trusting relationship that will safely guide your child through adolescence:
Guide Your Adolescent, Don't Try To Control
The best parent-adolescent relationships are formed when a parent offers guidance instead of trying to assert total control. After high school graduation, children will most likely be leaving the nest and they need to have skills in place to survive on their own. When living at home, parents should set safe boundaries while allowing their children to make decisions within those boundaries. Restricting your child from driving, attending social events and other teen activities in an attempt to shield your child from danger will result in your adolescent feeling the need to sneak behind your back - which lessens the likelihood that a trusting relationship will be built between you.
Sending your adolescent conflicting messages is very damaging, because he or she never knows how you will react or respond. If one evening your child comes home late and you laugh about it, then the next time you discipline and ground your teen, your child will be unable to trust what is or is not acceptable to you. Clear, reasonable boundaries and sticking to them will promote trust in your relationship.
Don't Be Hypocritical, Be Honest
Adolescents are very perceptive and focus a lot of energy on "what is fair, what is not." Disciplining your child for having a messy room, when your own bedroom looks like a tornado just landed in the center of it, can impact your child's ability to trust you, because it appears you are being unfair or hypocritical. All that is necessary is honesty, not a feeling that you cannot ask your child to clean his or her room until yours is clean. A gentle explanation that you have been very busy and certainly recognize your room is also in need of some help will be appreciated by your teen who is, guaranteed, already aware of the condition of your own bedroom.
Promote Open Communication
When it comes to building trust, nothing is as important as providing your child constant messages that you are always available to talk to, without judgment. Often teens will withhold feelings of depression, fear or admitting they are in trouble because they worry about how their parents will respond or think they won't understand. Try to remember how difficult adolescence was for you and share these stories with your child. Don't wait for your teen to come to you and don't be discouraged if they appear withdrawn or uncomfortable when you discuss topics such as sex, drugs or relationships. They do hear you and it does make an impression on them.
Teenagers will test boundaries and make wrong decisions, just like their parents did when they were kids. As a parent, our job is to catch our children when they fall, which they will do on occasion. When adolescents make a mistake, if they feel it is safe to call their parents for help, it could save their life. Some teens, afraid to tell their parents that they went to a party, will get behind the wheel with a friend who has been drinking, just to avoid being reprimanded or disappointing his or her parents.
So be open with your teen - be honest and share your own adolescent tales with your child. Above all, let your teenager know that no matter what, you are there to talk to and will always have nothing but unconditional love for him or her.
About the author Grace Pamer is the author of www.RomanticFrugalMom.com, one woman's on going quest to keep romance alive despite the time pressure of dealing with three beautiful but crazy kids and an always working husband. Check out her love letters for her section if you're looking to put the romance back into your marriage with a well crafted love letter to your nearest and dearest.