Teenagers. No one ever said it would be easy to live with them, but the reality is that you never expected to be so stressed out all of the time. Between dealing with the normal angst, hormonal issues, and power struggles and the worries that come with being a parent in regards to substance use, bullying, the Internet, sex, driving, and getting ready for the future, well, it doesn’t take much to understand why some animals actually eat their young.
Since that’s not really an option, many parents struggle to find ways of dealing with the stress of raising teenagers. While no one will ever say that it’s easy, by incorporating some of these techniques into your coping skill set, you — and your teen — are more likely to survive the teen years with your relationship, and your sanity, intact.
1. Get Support
Understand this: You are not alone. You do not have to ensure the struggles of parenting by yourself. Sometimes, all you need is a friend to lend a sympathetic ear while you vent about your teen. Other times, you might need some more in-depth or professional help, such as when your teen is struggling with substance abuse or another serious issue. Asking for help doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just means that you know your limitations, and understand that an outside perspective can help you be a better parent.
When you do ask for help, be specific about your needs. Do you just want to vent? Are you looking for advice? What help do you need? When you make a specific request, your loved ones, and even professionals, are more likely to give you what you need, and you won’t end up more frustrated.
2. Get Help for Your Teen
When your teen feels like no one understands, or just feels uncomfortable talking to you, he or she is more likely to turn to other sources for help — and that “help” isn’t always the healthiest choice. While your teen might resent your efforts to get help, if you suspect that he or she is in crisis, that help can make the difference between a happy ending and a tragic story.
Depending on your teen’s needs, help might come in the form of weekly counseling sessions, or it may require more drastic measures, such as a residential school for troubled teens like DiamondRanchAcademy.com that provides structure and therapeutic services. You know your teen best, and with the advice and input of physicians, teachers, and counselors, you’ll be able to devise a strategy to get your child through the rough patch and on track to a happy and healthy life.
3. Reframe Your Teen’s Issues
Often, parents forget what it was like to be a teenager, and why teens behave the way they do,especially when things like social media and the Internet didn’t even exist when they were young.
However, managing the stress of living with a teen often means reframing how we approach and talk about his or her issues. Getting to the bottom of an attitude or behavioral issue usually means looking past your own hurt and anger, and understanding why your teen is acting out. When your daughter screams, “You’re ruining my life,” for example, she is actually concerned about fitting in and not being bullied. Acknowledging your teen’s true emotions can help you temper your own reactions — and provide the support that your teen needs.
Reframing your teen’s issues is also especially important when he or she is dealing with a substance abuse or mental health problem. Instead of focusing on where you went wrong as a parent or what “caused” the issue — which only increases stress — approach your child’s issue as the medical problem that it is. You will still feel emotional, but by looking at such problems as diseases, they are easier to talk about and manage.
4. Find New Ways to Connect
It can be challenging to communicate and connect with a teen — even one who isn’t struggling — but you have to maintain the effort. Your teen wants you to stay interested and engaged, and sometimes, that means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
Talk with your teen, and stay involved with his or her life and interests. You may not always get a positive response, but when you’re committed to staying connected, you’ll maintain a relationship that will last long after the teen years.
Above all, parents need to take care of themselves in addition to their teens. Children of all ages can sense stress, and when you are letting your stress overtake you, it will affect your relationship. Learn to recognize your own triggers, and develop skills for managing your emotions. When you do, you’ll have a happier home life — and survive the teen years without once contemplating eating your child.