Every parent is going to be keenly aware of their children’s actions when they start hitting adolescence.
This is natural.
All the horror stories you’ve heard from the media and other parents about what terrors children turn into when they reach their teens is going to have an effect on how you parent. We’ve all heard the horror stores of the out of control teenager.
All of these ideas are going to make you hypersensitive to every little change in your teen’s life.
- Are they hanging out with the wrong crowd?
- Are they doing drugs?
- Have they thought about doing drugs?
Have any of their friends thought about, or know someone, who has done, or is thinking about, doing drugs? Call me when you get there. Who are you hanging out with?
I can understand the stress you must be feeling.
Your child might be doing things that might be harmful to them in their development as people. Maybe even long-term consequences that could make a big difference on how they live their lives.
If you are afraid that you have an out of control teenager, then you need to ask yourself a few questions about how you are perceiving their behavior and be honest with yourself about what are they actually doing.
- Are your teen’s actions morally wrong?
- Are your teen’s actions self-destructive?
- Are they harming anybody outside of themselves?
- Are there any real consequences that could adversely affect their life and/or future?
Those are the questions you need to worry about.
If they’re wearing all black and listening to a lot of death metal music, that’s something to be curious about, not alarmed.
More than one teen has gone through a “goth” phase, dressed in all black, and listened to loud music. Think back: what “phases” did you go through when you were a teenager? Did you ever do something harmless that your parents disapproved of?
Let’s explore the above scenario:
Your daughter or son has started dressing in all black and listening to music you find unappealing.
The questions you need to ask are: Do they seem stressed out? Are they doing well in school? Are they tired a lot?
If the answers to these questions are no, then your teen is probably OK.
They’re just going through a developmental stage of their life.
It is not a phase. “Phase” is a very condescending and dismissive word, and I advise that you don’t use that word when talking about or to your child about his/her choices and actions.
You see, your child is trying new things, learning, exploring, trying to understand who they are in this world and where they can fit into it.
It isn’t always a world-ending event when your kid does something out of the ordinary. In fact, a diversity of interests and healthy curiosity and openness to new things is something to celebrate.
They’re becoming an individual and learning to love themselves.
They are courageous enough to try things and see if they work, identify if it is right for them, and learn through their choices and words.
If you want to keep your teen’s trust, you have to respect their personal exploration and development.
You must step into a place of understanding that not every change they make to themselves as a person is going to be a bad change.
Take a moment to think about this from your own point of view.
How many different interests or developmental stages did you go through as an adolescent and even young adult?
At no point in time is a change permanent, if you give your child the support and let them be courageous enough to constantly challenge themselves and move in the direction of their interests.
If you ostracize or judge them for nonsensical, yet harmless, choices or habits, they will be stunted in their discovery.
They will be fearful and scared or even stubborn. It is in your best interest (and peace of mind), and your child’s best interest, that you are an observant and supportive person in their life. Even if you personally do not prefer black nailpolish and loud music.
Be respectful of their growth, and try to make sure that your reactions to their growth doesn’t spiral them into an out of control teenager. See what I did there?
On the other hand… If your teen is making poor moral choices, participating in self-destructive behavior, or hurting others, you can look forward to my upcoming second part of this series: Guiding Your Out of Control Teenager.
Need to talk to someone about your teen? Take a moment to speak with me personally on a 100% FREE Personal Discovery Session. I’ve spent over 20 years mentoring parents and teens, so take this opportunity to join me today!
Debra Beck is a devoted mother, sought-after presenter, author, and has spent over 20 years working with teens and their parents. She’s helped thousands of teen girls develop their self-esteem through her blog, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and mother-daughter retreats.
Her award-winning book My Feet Aren’t Ugly: A Girl’s Guide to Loving Herself was revised and updated for re-release in September 2011 with Beaufort Books.