Raising a Teenager Is A Lot More Difficult Than Raising a Toddler

Raising a Teenager Is A Lot More Difficult Than Raising a Toddler

It’s funny how parents of two-year-olds would eagerly count the years left until their kids become teens. Most new parents don’t know what’s in store for them when their children hit the hormonal-overflow stage. It’s easy to anticipate no more crying and tantrums. They’ll finally be able to do nearly everything for themselves. That may be true, but when your child becomes a teenager, you’ll find yourself in a whole new world of crazy where THERE ARE NO RULES. 

Watching your kids grow up is both scary and exciting. Teenagers are ‘almost-adults’ who want to be treated like adults. They want to be responsible for themselves. Don’t be surprised if your 13-year-old son tells you to drop him off a block from school so he could walk the rest of the way. It’s ‘uncool’ if his macho friends see his mom ferrying him back and forth. Real men are responsible for themselves. At some point, your teenage daughter will refuse to take a lunch box to school. Big girls buy their own food. 

Puberty is more than just physical changes

Puberty is a complicated phase in a child’s life. They begin to deal with a lot of physical changes and sexual characteristics that may be embarrassing to talk about. [1] Puberty also takes emotional and psychological tolls on many teenagers. They become extra-sensitive, conscious about the physical changes, and easily irritable. They are uncertain about how they’ll turn out and they begin to entertain conflicting thoughts about independence. They usually feel torn between seeking their parents’ guidance and running wild and free. It’s not uncommon to find teenagers dealing with intense mood swings, depression, and anxiety. [2]

At this stage, your kids begin to seek a new identity for themselves. All their friends are probably changing too, so everyone is forced to evolve and re-adapt. This can be a difficult phase because your child will strain to discover what makes them unique as a person. 

They begin to argue more, which is a sort of upgrade from tantrum-throwing. They try to raise their voices more and argue their way out of compromising situations. You’ll have to nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand by setting an example for them. While cautioning them not to talk back, give them a chance to share their opinions too.

Sex talk is uncomfortable for everyone

Your girl will start asking for permission to go to the mall or pool with her friends — and you’re not allowed to come along. That’s the whole point. Freedom with no parents in sight. Teenagers will be inclined to try out a world of new things — new hobbies, dangerous sports, driving, smoking, vaping, drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Sexual attractions and urges are inevitable, and they want to know what’s okay and what’s not. [3] This is where it gets scary for most parents. It starts with kissing. Boys would usually just dive right in, but girls are more likely to tell someone about it first. Teenagers are experimental and their exploding hormones don’t help matters so much.

The best step to take at this point is to get in front of the topic and be the parent who was once a teen. Sooner or later, they’ll find out everything they need to know, and some of them may find out the hard way. They may be already be taking Sex Ed at school, but your parental guidance usually has a more resounding effect. While discussing this sensitive issue with your teen, try not to act embarrassed or too serious. This will make the discussion more awkward. Just be the neutral parent who answers questions simply and with plain facts.

Say the truth about everything and don’t jump into conclusions. Teens asking about sex doesn’t mean they are doing it already. Tell them that although sex is pleasurable, it’s in their best interests to wait until they become mature enough to handle emotionally intimate relationships. Adolescence is not the right time to become sexually active. There’s a lot more going on in their lives and such complicated relationships will only make things more difficult for them. They’ll be better off waiting until they become adults and are fully responsible for themselves.

Teach your girls that having sex at a young age can double the risk of cervical cancer later in life. [4] Their bodies may be experiencing aggravated growth, and they are not ready for sexual intimacy. 

Teach them about safe sex, mutual consent, and contraception. These are best discussed after mentioning other factors that contribute to a healthy sexual life, which include age, emotional maturity, and psychological development. 

Be an influencer, not a controller

Try not to talk to your teen, rather talk with them. You’ll often be tempted to sit them down and scream into their teenage skulls, but you need to respect the fact that they are no longer kids (this is 70% of what they want). Communicate freely with them. Be open with your teens and give them a chance to speak their minds and air their views. This doesn’t mean they get to be rude to you.

Talk to them about the changes they’re going through. They’ll probably be embarrassed, so you have to make them feel at ease. Tell them it’s a phase they’ll get used to soon enough. Don’t be a dictator of rules. Prove to your teen that you trust them to make the right decisions by giving them a measure of freedom. 

You’ll be tempted to follow them everywhere or place a tracker in their backpacks. You’ll want to know what they are up to at all times. That’s normal because you’re their parent and their safety is your responsibility, but you have to let up a little at this stage.

Totally The Bomb author Jamie Harrington seems to have teen parenting all figured out and according to her, you just have to go with the flow and trust the upbringing you’ve given your child. [5]

All these kids mature at different times,” she wrote. “Sure, we can let their maturity guide us to some extent, but if it were left up to me, I’d probably keep mine under lock and key until she was 30 or so. And that can’t be right.  

You just have to trust. Trust that you raised a good kid with good morals and good sense. Trust that you knew what you were doing along the way, and trust in your kid. That all sounds good in theory, but in practice? I really just want to follow her around the mall like a creepy sneaky stalker person and just make sure she’s safe at all times.”

You’ll figure it out (at some point.) Trust your instincts.

References

  1. Secondary Sexual Characteristics.” Science Direct. 2011.
  2. Teen Depression.” Mayo Clinic.
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Talking to Your Kids about Sex“. Health Line. August 2017.
  4. Having sex at an early age can double the risk of cervical cancer.” The Telegraph. December 2009.
  5. Raising A Teenager Is So Much Harder Than Raising A Toddler.” Totally the Bomb.
#Family