Sadly there is no such magical handbook with every single answer to every single question or problem we have about our children. However, we manage and we learn through hints and tips from our own mothers and family or friends who have “been there and done that!”
Becoming a teenager
When our children hit their teens, we need help probably more than any other time in their lives. From birth to around 11 to 12 years of age, we the parents decide when they go to bed, get up, what they will and won’t eat, when they can go out to play, even who they play with, the list is endless! But from around the age of 12 things start to change, the boundaries you have set along with the rules, are starting to be questioned and pushed to see how far they can go.
A taste of freedom
Teenagers are full of contradictions. On the one hand, they want freedom and the right to make their own decisions and be treated as adults. And on the other hand, they want nothing more than to snuggle up on the sofa eating popcorn and watching a film with their parents. Little wonder that we as the parents get exasperated! One day they are almost childlike and the next they look at you in utter disgust at the mere mention of watching a film together!
Teenagers and clothes
What your teenager wears can be another minefield in which you are guaranteed to get it (according to your teenager) so wrong! Clothes, as we know, are a form of expression. How your teenager dresses is a serious matter to them.
Looking back when I was a teenager, how I dressed was very important to me and how I felt around my peers. Looking ridiculous was not an option, I thought I looked good! However, looking at the photos of myself as a teenager, there are many “what was I thinking wearing that?” moments.
And so, even though I don’t get the “jeans falling down so far that your underwear is showing fashion statement,” I won’t stop my son from wearing them. Although I would wonder how he and his friends manage to run to around without the jeans falling down around their feet!
Allow teens to express themselves freely, as long as the clothes they wear do not offend other people, clothes with Nazi slogans on them for example. I would let them enjoy experimenting with their clothes. Any comments made by you will usually be answered with ‘that was back then, everything is different now, you wouldn’t understand’ response.
Being the parent of a teenager is about changes and shifting power and responsibility from yourself to your teenager. With boundaries, guidance and consistency, but most importantly with love. Just like those dreaded night time feeds, the teething and the terrible tantrums you got through them, you’re still alive and you’re still a parent!