Parenting Teens in a World of Unrealistic Expectations
Parents of teenagers need to mentally prepare for the emotional changes that come with adolescence. While children need boundaries and parental control, those rules should decrease as the teenage years approach. When a teenager doesn’t perform according to their parent’s expectations, stress levels rise and conflict occurs. Expectations are psychologically important to the developing teen. A set of guidelines helps them move through changes, helping them adjust to new situations when they don’t know what to expect.
Be Mindful of Outside Forces
Adolescence commences as early as age 9 and can last until the early 20s. Adolescence takes a long time for a young person to complete due to the complexity of society, the rate of social and technological evolution and all the knowledge and skills required to master young adult independence. Social media, music, the internet and movies greatly influence today’s teenager. These outside forces shape their personalities, belief systems and relationships with others. Every parent hopes to give their child a better life than they had, but too often, they might cross the line with critically high standards.
Make Your Expectations Known
Teenagers face a barrage of new experiences, so they need to have realistic expectations about what awaits. Make sure that the expectations and consequences you set for your teen are clear. Uncertainty causes feelings of anxiety and depression. Surprisingly, many parents are oblivious to teenage depression and do not recognize the symptoms in their own children. Parents have a responsibility to prepare their teens for major life changes. Teens can easily have unrealistic expectations when it comes to peer pressure, dating, puberty and school.
Realize that Your Teenager Will Make Mistakes
Keep in mind that it is normal for your teen to confide in you less as he or she ages, become more private and prefer their friends over you. This is normal behavior. Keep communication open and positive. Acknowledge the issues your teen is facing and have rational discussions with them. When times grow hard, do not overreact or let your emotions take over. Teenagers need stability, reassurance and a safe environment in order to thrive emotionally and psychologically. Active listening, empathy and attunement act as the most powerful agents of change.
Practice What You Preach
Our children learn more by what we do than by what we say. Remember that actions speak louder than words, and your job is to lead by example. Do not expect them to be perfect, always in a good mood or to always follow directions. Although it is frustrating when they mess up, realize that they are human and mistakes happen. Do not hold your teenager to impossible standards.
Love Your Teenager Unconditionally
Take the following steps so that your teen feels your love for him or her:
Help your teen envision a successful future.
Discuss together the steps they need to achieve it.
Praise any progress they make toward responsibility and autonomy.
Practice love and understanding.
Finally, if your adolescent is exhibiting severe behaviors that might harm themselves or others, think about seeking professional help, including a school for troubled teenagers.