Are you the parent of a tween or teen? How is that going? Do you have good days? Not so good days? Silence? Closed doors? Verbal arguments?
Is it worse than what I already described? Is your tween or teen using drugs, alcohol, exhibiting behaviour that is really questionable? Perhaps hanging out with kids you would rather they did not?
Or are you fortunate to have tweens and teens that are well behaved, are exemplary students, volunteer, have great friends, and are involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities?
Or you could be the parent that has tweens and teens that are in the middle of the two descriptions above which I imagine is the average for most of us.
Think of your own teenager days; who were your friends? What were they like? Where you a difficult and challenging teen or one with an easy-going attitude that sailed through your teen years with little difficulty?
Tweens and teens deal with things we did not. I am part of Generation X. Millennials and Baby Boomers deal with and are dealing with very different issues than even I did.
Modern technology has brought up issues that I never even imagined; all the gaming devices, apps, smartphones, texting, videos and photos by phone that once out there in the digital world are hard to retrieve.
Youth today text, message, take selfie photos, and share everything online. This is their world. My world was the old style cameras where you used up the roll of film, brought it in for developing and if you did not like the photo, you could rip it up. Games were Atari, Pac-Man on a computer using the arrow keys, and internet was not created yet. I did my research old style; in the library using the card catalogue system, microfiche, photocopying pages to review at home and typing up papers by typewriter or word processor.
We met our friends in the parks, at school, the mall, and interacted face to face. Calling long distance was so expensive that calls were brief or cost a fortune! We wrote letters and had pen-pals.
Now, I have adapted to the modern world and have a smartphone, email, text, message, take photos with my phone, use social media (some of it), do video calls through Whatsapp, Zoom or FaceTime. But I know I am not as tech savvy as the youth of today as they grew up with this technology from birth.
So, as a parent-what are the challenges of raising youth with this technology? What issues do you deal with? Do your kids teach you or give you a hard time and lack patience?
Do they seek your advice or withdraw and turn to friends? Do you communicate by screaming at one another and slamming doors in frustration? Have you sought professional assistance? Are you part of a network of parents experiencing similar behaviours with tweens and teens?
A peer support network can be amazing and provide you with the knowledge you are not alone. If you find yourselves in a deadlocked relationship with your kids, are feeling hopeless, psychologically distressed-trust me-there are other parents and guardians feeling the same way as you.
Many parents are going through what I term the ‘mine field’ of the teenage years which includes rebellion, independence, isolation, teenage drama, and while normal developmental states or stages, can be tricky to handle. Trust me I know-I have a teenager and a tween!
Be there for your kids. Be willing to listen. Have an open door policy and let your kids know their friends are welcome at your home. Get to know your kids friends. Ask questions. Go to their school events and volunteer at their school(s) when you are able. Keep the lines of communication open. Be flexible. Have family dinners together and celebrate holidays together.
Thoughts? Questions? suggestions?