Is there a worse curse than an angry, distant, or defiant teenager? The parents of angry, distant, defiant teenagers would tell you that there isn’t. Parenting teenagers is hard enough. Their moods constantly change, their personality is still forming and testing the water, and everything is new and very serious. And that’s the case even with well-behaved and happy teenagers. But what if your teen ISN’T well-behaved and happy? Even once a week!
If that’s the case, you’re not alone and you’re not crazy – it is seemingly impossible. Difficult teenagers present a unique set of challenges. As hard as you may work, you may never “crack” the code. Or you may crack the code just to find you’re being presented with an entirely new challenge. It’s exhausting. Especially when you factor in the other responsibilities and challenges in your life such as work, your love life, other children, home and community tasks. We’re here with 4 tips for parenting angry, distant, or defiant teens.
Take Care of Yourself. Parenting a difficult teen can be completely draining – emotionally, mentally, and physically. Many parents find themselves burnt out after dealing with work, family, life, and then an angry teen on top of it. Not only is this a terrible burden that will weigh on your daily life, but it can actually cause you to wear thin and lash out when it’s least convenient. The last thing you need is to damage your relationship with your teen because you’re just too exhausted to keep trying. Instead, take weekly breaks to do something you love. Invest in a hobby or hold a kid-free date night as sacred.
Find a Way to Show Love. This is NOT easy. When you child is screaming at you, ignoring you, or actively working against you sometimes the last thing you worry about is making sure they know you love them. But it is critical and relationship-changing. Teens act in this way when they feel scared, threatened, or insecure. Therefore it’s more important than ever to reassure them of your love, even when it appears they aren’t listening or paying attention. Try to express your love in a variety of ways – spoken, written, physical, gifts, service, quality time, support, and giving them space when they need it. You can find more helpful tips for parenting your teens here.
Get Help. You do not have to do this alone, and honestly you shouldn’t! Especially as things get harder and more distant. If you can’t seem to make any progress at all and the effects are getting to be more and more disastrous – it may be time to find some help. Start with some parenting books, and then begin looking for a family therapist. If all else fails, it doesn’t mean YOU are a failure if you need to find a structured program or therapeutic boarding school for your troubled teen.
Take some comfort in the fact that your efforts are not in vain, and that trying and loving make you a good parent. Keep trying and loving, and accept joy and help wherever you can find it.