So, you’re a father and you got teenagers in the house. You feel that a particular teener is giving you more headaches than you did to your father when you were in your teens yourself. Now, reach up with your right hand and tap yourself in the back and welcome yourself to the ‘Dads of Difficult Teenagers‘ club.
Generally, solutions can be conjured up more easily if you first try to understand a problem and the factors that contribute to it.
Fathers, through a teen’s eyes
A major source of conflict in father-teenager relationships is in the area of freedom. If allowed, teenagers tend to spend most of their time with friends than with their family. The urge to try new things is mostly in the ‘not allowed’ zones (from ‘staying out too long’ to the ‘unimaginable’) and, thus, a father is usually seen as a block to their freedom. A father, however, who knows when to be there at the right time and place is seen by a teenager as a reliable confidante, hero and friend, though this ideal type of father is a hard-to-find commodity.
Why do they do it?
Why do they do the things they do? Three major factors were observed to be most obvious: Physical-hormonal, emotional, and mental.
Researchers now claim that aside from the physical-hormonal changes, brain areas that govern logic are further developing at this period. So, imagine a teenager making decisions while his ‘CPU’ is still loading up. And emotions brought by peer pressure and the need to look cool would tend to heat things up further. This mix almost sounds like a computer in the verge of crashing. They also think that old folks never understand teenagers, forgetting totally the fact that these folks had been teenagers at one time, and are definitely wiser now.
Suggestions for dealing with difficult teenagers
- Show ‘cool’ and strength. They are more likely to believe one who has the attributes that they strive for.
- Respect their strange rhythms. Give leeway to SOME irregularities like the times they like to eat breakfast, sleep and wake up, etc.
- Arrange more X-Outdoor activities. Put a little X (as in extreme) in your outdoor activities. You on your big bike and your teen and his friends on skateboards holding unto ropes attached to the bike. Cool?
- Have more dinner together as a family. That TV ad promoting this activity proves that this works.
- Get in their shoes, and determine when you should be there and when to stay in the backstage.
- Have the iron hand within reach should it be needed.
- Communicate! Talk! Sometimes, this is all you need.
For EXTREMELY difficult situations, it’s time to level up. That is, it’s time to seek professional help.
Author’s note: Children of some of my relatives are becoming teenagers really fast, and mine will soon be in a few short years. I also remembered a time when my father, also my hero by the way, had to deal with my younger brother who, for awhile, chose ‘friends’ over family. Some of the suggestions above were the steps taken by my father. The others are steps which should have cost him less frustrations had he taken them.