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How To Get Along With Your Teenager

Take a deep breath...

BY Naledi K

Jul 20, 2021, 10:40 AM

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The difficulty of communicating with teenagers as their parents or adults, in general, is age-old. For Black people, it has a lot to do with how we communicated with their own parents growing up and how they communicated with our grandparents. The way we communicate has had to evolve as we evolved as people but never has the age gap felt as large as it does for parents who have to raise ama2000s as they are affectionately called in Mzansi.

Most of our cultures and traditions dictated that communication between adult and child should only truly take place in a vertical manner but in only one direction - that is, from parent to child and hardly the other way around. It happened that way for a while and our parents were taught the same. Luckily for us, our parents saw the shortfalls of that way of doing things. 

Although they were not always successful, they tried to create an environment where horizontal communication could happen… where a parent and her child could have an honest conversation about previous dubbed “taboo” subjects such as sex or dating. Now that we are the parents, we are raising our teens in a totally different space and era. 
Not only is it compulsory that we as parents create a “safe” space for our children to talk to us, but they are also a lot more willing to talk - perhaps even to a point where their grandmother may deem disrespectful. 
However, bridging the age gap and getting to a place where you are able to relate to each other is still a slippery slope. Hopefully, these tips will help.

No, You Don’t Understand. Accept That

Listen, both you and I and your teenage daughter/son know that you were once a teenager. Here’s the bad news, just because you were once a teenager doesn’t mean you understand what it is like to be a teenager in 2021.

Hell, you were listening to wholesome American R&B to get through a break-up, and kids these days default to savage behaviour when they are broken-hearted thanks to queen Riri and other liberated female musicians on your child’s iTunes playlist. Don’t pretend like you actually understand why she has to post that Tweet and Instagram post or her “life is over” but make sure they know that you are there for them either way. 

Don’t Take It Personal

It’s hard not to think that your teen maybe hates you when that’s all they say when you attempt to ground them or show them the way. They don’t hate you. Maybe they dislike you at that moment because why would you take their iPhone (that you paid for) away but they definitely don’t hate you.

Dealing with people that are still learning to regulate their emotions and to deal with different situations appropriately is just part of the parenting gig. They are always in their feels (literally) and they don’t know how to effectively communicate. Sometimes they get hostile but it rarely has anything to do with you.

Listen To Them And Validate Their Feelings

Always encourage your kids to talk to you about anything and everything. This works like magic especially if it has been that way since they were younger. As a parent, you have to keep your door open and never - unless absolutely necessary - pry into your teen's business.

You have to respect the boundaries that your teen sets, considering they are reasonable. Allow them to come to you and when they do, listen to them, withhold judgment, validate their feelings then offer advice.

It will help you to treat them the way you wish your parents had treated you when you were young, wild, and free. There’s no denying that it’s a tricky balance but the teenage years are tricky for both parent and teen so, pull up your socks and give it your very best shot. Your teen’s life may depend on it!