The process of parenting teenagers can be full of surprises and paradox. You can go through moments of great joy and moments of deep disappointment. It is important to know that the teen years are the time when you child is slowly extracting him or herself from your direct control and supervision.
This is not a momentary action. It takes several years for both the parent and child to adapt to a more self-sufficient and independent child. It is vital that you as parent support your child in this process as opposed to hindering them.
This process is really what you have been preparing your child for, and it is why you have been raising your child — to stand on their own two feet as an adult. It is very important that you rejoice as your teenager progresses towards independence while you continue to provide a safety net.
You as a parent must understand that this separation process is going to commence when the child begins to celebrate his or her double digit birthdays.
Begin the process by identifying external interests for the child to be involved in. Some children are athletic and for those a team sports a wonderful environment to keep the child involved in wholesome activities. However, do not delegate your parental responsibilities to external parties. You still need to be very involved with this area of the child’s life. You must demonstrate your interest by attending games, for example.
Church activities can also be very valuable to help your teenager as the child starts to become aware of their spiritual life. Having access to an external spiritual leader and group helps both the parent and the teenager.
Teenagers can adopt many other activities that interest them, such as singing in a choir, playing in a band, going camping, showing off their skills at gymnastics, and many other constructive activities. These activities help the teenager to develop their own interests and form their own identity as they pull further and further away from the direct control and influence of the parent.
A very important aspect of teenage parenting is the presentation of a united front. Teenagers are experts at playing the one parent off against the other to get their way. It creates confusion in the family and it is not good for the teenager if parents openly disagree. Even when the two parents may have disagreements about rules, those disagreements must be worked out in private. The teenager needs the structured environment of getting a consistent answer from both parents.
Regardless of how well your parenting skills are developed, you can expect some rough patches as your child goes through the teenage years. It is all just a natural process of becoming an adult.