Kids & Parenting

When Your Baby Is Suddenly A Teenager

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Parenting is never easy – that much almost goes without saying. With all the daily joys, parenting tends to involve constantly questioning yourself, paranoia, fear, battles with fussy eating, consoling tears over their shots, and concern for the future in a way you didn’t understand prior to your child being born.

While it’s never an easy thing to do (though it is, undoubtedly, a rewarding one), the years when your child – your baby as you still think of them! – transitions to being a teenager are among the most complex.

My youngest turned thirteen late last year and we are already riding the hormone highs and lows. Yesterday for instance, he was talking back to us with attitude and then he was in tears. I swear, from the age of thirteen through to seventeen or eighteen, it is like living with a mini adult with PMS for three or four years!

Most of us can think back to our own childhood and recall the arguments we had with our parents. It’s a perilous time, not helped by a burgeoning sense of independence (from the child) and a resistance to give over all control to someone too immature to be ready for it (from the parents).

While the coping methods differ hugely depending on your general parenting ethos, there are a few ways you can push through these rocky years.

  1. Remember What You Were Like

When trying to understand what someone is going through, it’s always helpful if you can empathise with the situation – and you have a perfect sounding board with your child, based on your own experiences.

As an adult, we can look back on many of the things that our parents insisted on and agree that most of them were worthwhile. Inevitably though, your parents will have made a few mistakes – so keep in mind the fact that your judgement is not infallible either. Don’t fall back on “just do it because I say so” – always be willing to justify your thoughts and how they influence your choices for your child.

  1. Accept Things Need To Change

Trying to cling onto a babyhood, a time when your child was utterly reliant on you, is a hole that many parents find themselves falling into – and it’s one you need to avoid.

Accepting that your house is going to be run differently as your child ages is important. For a start, they’re probably not going to want you to go into their bedroom when they’re not there – even if it is to tidy. The teenage years bring with them a sudden realisation of privacy and a desire for it; it doesn’t mean they are hiding something – they’re just growing up!

If possible, keep in mind the way that their bedroom could probably do with an update too. It might be time to pack the clothes away into the attic, give them their own desk for school work and update the decor to reflect a more mature standpoint. With a few tweaks, you can turn a bedroom from a dated child’s space into a piece of luxury real estate that any teenager would be glad to have.

  1. Freedom – With Limits

The above might sound like it’s contradictory, but it’s actually just a nod to the process of allowing independence without encouraging bad decisions. Of course you shouldn’t give your teenager room to do anything they want, but don’t hold them on too harsh a leash either. Try and set a rule that for everything you say no to, you say yes to another. It will make you evaluate what’s really a problematic request and what is just being refused from the instinctive parental desire to protect.

How did you deal with teenagers?

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