Teenagers on Teenagers
Was great to hear two teenagers talk about the book they've written on Shelagh Fogarty's 5 Live programme today. I'd heard them before and believe they talk a lot of common sense. It's interesting to hear things from a teenager's perspective – and I really don't believe many parents ever do this for they're usually far too involved in either trying to discipline or protect their children from harm. It's a sad fact that we seem to have become frightened of teenagers as a generation – and so most parents seem to think it's essential to clamp down on them so that they don't go off the rails.
But the last thing teenagers want at this stage is any kind of clamping – this is their time for stretching their wings, trying out new things, finding out what they're about, and above all, separating from the dependency on their parents.
Parents find this hard – they've been so used to being in control for a dozen or so years. And from my experience of counselling both parents and teenagers, I believe this is where most problems lie. Parents dote on their newborns, delight in their toddlers and their funny ways, wallow in the uncondtional love that small children give them – but then all of a sudden, when that changes, when children begin to question and challenge their parents, the parents all too often panic. And that's when they usually feel they have to clamp down in order to stay in control. And that's a recipe for disaster.
Far better to try to take a step back, observe your teenagers develop, applaud them for trying to find their own way, encourage them if they struggle, but above all TRUST them to make their own mistakes yet turn out fine. They almost all do and they need your love and support while they do – not endless criticism.