And so how do you parent an adolescent? Firstly, much of your influence as a parent would depend considerably on the intimacy and depth that you have developed with your child while he was growing up.
If you are able to provide him nurturance, it will not be too hard to maintain connection and influence during the turbulent years in adolescence.
But unfortunately, the strategies you applied in childhood cannot be effective anymore during adolescence. Simply because your child is not anymore the baby that is helpless and clueless in many things but the young adult that begins to experience the world in an entirely different way.
That is why I tell parents that if you rely solely on power and authority to make your child obey, chances are they will rebel when they grow up. Because they can already fight back using their own power, they will find opportunities to show to you that they can be independent and work on their own.
My children are still young (the eldest is 7 years old), and therefore I still have some time to prepare and ponder on my present strategies and what I will employ in the future when they already become teenagers.
In my reflection, I came up with a simple framework represented by the acronym MODEL. With this, I hope to continue to nurture my adolescent children in the future and pray that they will respond favourably to these ways.
M stands for MODEL INTEGRATED BEHAVIOR. If you can tell your young kids easily to follow what you say and not what you do, that will not be effective anymore for teenagers. An adolescent is already able to think logically and abstractly and they can easily spot the inconsistency in your reasoning.
Therefore, as much as possible, we parents should walk our talk. If we donâ€™t want our adolescent to get into vices for example, we need to make sure that we also do not drink, smoke, or gamble. Yes, actions may speak louder than words but it is much better if our words are always intertwined with our actions.
O is for OPENNESS. Maintain lines of communication always open. And we can achieve this only if we let our adolescent feel that he is not judged or labelled everytime he tells or shares about something. Listening to understand and not to judge is one skill that every parent needs to develop.
This kind of listening does not mean that we relinquish our right and authority as parents to teach by way of giving advice, admonition, reprimand, or even get angry. But by listening nonjudgmentally, we let our teenagers know and feel that whatever he says is valued and respected. With that, they will trust us more and share to us more and not only to their peers.
D stands for DISCIPLINE.Â Â Decide on rules and discipline in advance. An adolescent still needs guidance and he will appreciate it much if rules are clear, reasonable, and generally accepted by the whole family. As a result, he will view discipline as something positive and a necessity so he can develop well.
E is for ESTABLISH IDENTITY. The one question that continually pesters the adolescent is â€œWho am I really?â€ It is this developmental task of finding and forming oneâ€™s identity that influences the young person to seek for people who will affirm who he is regardless of whether these models are good or bad.
A parent can help the adolescent find himself by supporting him in his endeavors.Â Â A parent needs to show the adolescent what is expected of him and the roles that he can portray in the family and in the community. And when the adolescent fails in enacting these roles, the parent should be there to motivate him again.
And L is for LOVE. Love unconditionally. Be ready to be tolerant of his idiosyncrasies. Be prepared to forgive. Donâ€™t be too overbearing but let him feel that everyone can leave him but not you. Surely, love conquers all.
Iâ€™m beginning to imagine what my kids would be like when they reach puberty and become teenagers. But I hope the work of love and service my wife and I are doing now with them will prepare all of us as a family for the exciting and at times scary stage that is called adolescence.Â Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)