By Abdool A. Aziz
SO YOUR CHILD has turned 13 and you observe certain changes in his/her attitude. Don’t panic.
Do not label him/her a delinquent. Understand this is a turbulent time for him/her.
He/she will undergo biological changes especially in the area of sexual development. Physical changes, emotional turmoil and the school and peer group.
As he/she tries to leave the family (nest) and assert himself/herself, he/she is confused. Tempers flare, stubbornness occur, pre-occupation with his/her own thoughts, more time alone and interest in the opposite sex boom. Happier with friends than family, he/she tries to understand his/her identity. No longer an obedient, submissive introvert, the world has opened up to him/her. Boyhood/girlhood days are gone. Manhood/Womanhood awaits him/her. He/she is anxious to get there but the hurdle of teenage dilemma imposes itself.
How do you deal with your troubled teen? Here are some guidelines:
1. Continue to show your love. They will test you.
2. Answer questions honestly. Do not try to avoid the vulgar or the obscene. they will get the right answer from their school mates or peers and now social media.
3. Instead of the rigid rules imposed on them, relax some curfew time.TV time control music etc .Too much restriction creates a wedge in the relationship .But never give way and say: ‘I Aint able with you’. Sorry I make you try hard to control your anger in words or action.
4. Establish a parternship. Treat your offspring with respect and admiration .Do not stifle his right to self-determination and independence. He/she is a holistic person and created.
5. Never compare them to other siblings or others in the neighbourhood. Inspire –yes. He/she is no copy cat. He/she is an individual with his/her personality.
6. Never refer to the tThe good old days or in my time.” Teens don’t wish to hear of others or aboutyour time. They are drowning in their existence.
7. Do not talk down to your kids and impose the power structure. Yes, keep that status of parenthood but in a subtle way establish a rapport-one to one.
8. Teenage behaviour is unpredictable. but its temporary. Most times indiscipline is the outburst of uncontrolled emotions. Be calm sometimes, ignore somethings, smile, but do not engage in conflict. Teens do regret their misbehaviour. Give them a chance to recoil.
9. Your culture, your religion is not theirs .Do not impose it too much. These are modern times. Too many electronic gadgets. It’s the computer, cyber space and the cell phone – different interests, different values
10. Be in control but with a modest touch. Be strong but be resilient too.
11. This is an age of sexual explosion. Boyfriends and girlfriends abound. Nothing wrong in a cordial or platonic relationship but warn them of the penalty of committing fornication.
12. Teach them abstention or protection and patience in marriage.
13. Emphatise with your kids. But do not condone wrong doing. A tough love approach is good
14. Let the relationship be elastic but do not give up.
15. Let them choose their own goals in life in accordance with their ability. They have a right to do so.
16. It’s a challenge, it’s a career. It’s a rewarding, but kids come first.
17. Be their friend and their confidant. A parent-child partnership pays dividends.