The teenage years can be the most demanding period for most parents. Every parent reaches a point where they hang their hands and say, “My kids hate me.” For some parents, this happens for the first time or more frequently when their child reaches adolescence. Teens tend to desire to separate from their parents and seek autonomy. No matter how great a parent you’ve been, your teenager will pull away from you at some point. The good news is that this is natural.
Splitting from their parents is part of self-realization that helps children establish who and how they’ll act as their own person. During this stage, their friends and counterparts become more valuable than their parents. This idea can be a hard pill to swallow for parents, but it’s an unfortunate part of parenthood. However, it’s not about the parents; what really matters is the kids.
A lot of how parents treat their adolescents and teens has more to do with parents than with them. Parents see themselves in their children, and they stir up a lot of old pain that they’ve shelved in their memory. Parents tend to project their history onto their kids and assume they’ll repeat their mistakes. They tend to see their kids as a reflection of them and pressure them to do and be better than their parents and not make mistakes.
However, you’re doing your children a disservice by not separating your experience from theirs. The more parents can see and respect them as their own person, the more you can be there for them in the unique ways that match their needs instead of yours as a parent. It’s a real challenge when your kids, who still depend on you, are shutting you out. The best thing you can do to stabilize this shift is to put yourself in their shoes. As parents, you should try to respect their opinions, ideas, and boundaries to understand what they’re going through and be sensitive to their shifting needs. If you feel like your teen is shutting you out, here are some things to do if you feel like your teen is shutting you out.
Understand that this isn’t about you.
Teenagers can say some pretty mean things. These statements can be extreme, but there can be some truth that can make them more painful. Your kids have spent their whole lives as our bystanders. At times, you feel like they’re ignoring or forgetting, but they are absorbing and observing everything in reality. When they start to voice their opinions or lash out, it’s not that they hate you or themselves.
While you should interfere with any harmful behavior, telling them that it’s unacceptable to abuse anyone, parents should be open to their children’s feedback if you want them to deal with their feelings healthily. This may include hearing some things that you don’t want to hear or considering that they don’t want you texting them all the time or invading their privacy. Instead, parents should accept how they may hurt their children even if that’s not their intention.
Once your child reaches their teenage years, parents can feel like they’ve switched roles. They may also feel mistreated or jealous of their fresh perspective on life. However, it’s not your children’s job to care for you. That’s the parent’s job.
Try not to overstep boundaries.
It’s understandable to worry about the kind of adult your kids will be, especially when they’re transitioning to adulthood. As parents, you worry about their future because the future is coming sooner than you anticipated. As a result, you develop unrealistic rules that make your kids feel intruded on while resisting them learning for themselves. In reality, these rules have more to do with making the parents feel comfortable than making your kids feel safe. These rules can also fan a teen’s flame to rebel. Over-attempts to control usually tend to backfire.
It can be challenging for parents to hear, but sometimes you have to let your kids be. You can keep them safe by noticing their mood and familiarizing yourself with their friends, activities, and school work. While you should avoid too many rules, we should stand firm in the rules you do make. By implementing realistic boundaries, you can make your kids feel secure while offering them the space they need.
Set an example for your kids.
As a parent, your behavior tends to affect your children’s behavior. Recent studies indicate parents’, particularly mothers’, happiness is strongly connected to their child’s happiness, even when they’ve grown up and moved out or gotten into a relationship.
If you’re worried that your child won’t be responsible, the biggest thing you can do is show responsibility in your actions and behave in ways we respect. If your child is shutting you out, we should continue to offer them warmth, kindness, and patience. These behaviors will facilitate an opportunity for them to be nice to you and maintain a healthier relationship over time.
Create shared experiences.
Preferably, from the time your kids are born, raising them turns into a series of nurturing experiences where you’ve helped them develop into strong adults. Parents can expect the relationship with their kids to change through their developmental stages, and certain phases will naturally come and go.
One of the best ways to develop an equal adult relationship with your children as they mature is to find an interest that you share or pursue or a project you can participate in together. These activities and projects can help you get to know each other and create an appreciation of each other as individuals.
As kids grow older, they’ll need more independence. This transition can be a rewarding lesson in parenthood, or it can feel like you’re losing something, reliving the trying times of your childhood. As parents, the best thing you can do is work on yourself and remember that their experiences are their own. If you feel like your teen is shutting you out, try not to pry but instead let them come to you when they’re ready. Also, try to remember that you were a teenager once.