Parenting

Mandy Kloppers

How to Cope with the Stresses of Parenting Teenagers

teenager and parent

Parenting teenagers can be extremely stressful. As children grow into young adults, they go through physical, emotional and social changes that can be challenging for both them and their parents. Teen moodiness, rebellion, unpredictable behaviour, and conflict over rules and responsibilities are par for the course. While setting reasonable limits and having open communication are vital, parents also need to look after their own mental health. Here are some tips to help parents cope with the stresses of the teenage years.

Conflict is Normal

Accept that conflict is normal. Arguments with teens are inevitable as they navigate their changing identity and test boundaries. See these clashes as a rite of passage rather than a flaw in your parenting or relationship. Stay calm, pick your battles wisely, be the mature one, and walk away when tensions escalate. Rediscover your rapport when things settle down.

It’s Not Personal

Don’t take things personally. Teen eye-rolling, back chat and unpredictable moods are often fuelled by physical and neurological changes, rather than a genuine dislike for you. Avoid reacting defensively and remind yourself this behaviour will pass. Validating their feelings shows you empathise, even when baffled by their behaviour.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Stay connected through ups and downs. Making time for laughs, chats and activities you enjoy together reminds kids you’re there for them. Even when they seem non-communicative, keep lines open via goodnight chats or notes in their lunchbox. Shared experiences build resilience to weather the tough times.

Monitor Your Own Wellbeing

Manage your own stress levels. Sleep deprivation, arguments and worry can overload parent brains at this intense life stage. Make sure your own needs don’t get drowned out by parenting duties. Eat well, exercise, set work/digital boundaries, and take time out with friends. Having energy stores and outlets protects family relationships.

Share the Burden

Discuss issues with your partner respectfully. Parenting frustrations often get taken out on spouses. But you need a united front on rules and boundaries with kids. Compromise if needed. Debrief in constructive ways without blaming each other and remind yourselves you’re both doing your best.

Lean on your support network. Parenting teens can be isolating but sharing stories with friends over coffee or online parenting groups helps regain perspective. Those further down the road may offer insights from experience. If things get on top of you, don’t struggle alone – enlist help from family members or professionals. Talk to your foster agency, such as Fostering People, if you are caring for a foster teenager. They can offer help and support when the going gets tough.

Focus on the positives. Teens keep you young by making sure you’re up to date with trends. Seeing your child grow into a quirky, compassionate and curious individual is truly magical, despite the bumps along the way. Celebrate little victories, laugh about mishaps, and take pride in their successes. Before you know it, they’ll be ready to fly the nest!

The teenage years represent a steep learning curve for parents and children alike. But keeping sight of what matters, getting the right support and looking after yourself goes a long way. Have faith that this too shall pass. With time, care and mutual understanding, you’ll navigate challenging years to build lasting bonds with the adults your teens will grow into.

Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash

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