As a parent, dealing with a teenage daughter can be extremely challenging. Some say they can be a nightmare. At one moment, they can be understanding, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and witty. But, on the other end of the spectrum, they can be extremely temperamental, arrogant, indecisive, and stubborn. In between the good, bad, and the ugly, you may say that you have the perfect teen, she is your daughter after all. Due to the work-from-home situation that many of us face, the whole relationship dynamic may have changed at the house. You weren’t around much, but now you are in each other’s faces all the time. Parenting a 21st-century teenage daughter may just require you to be up your game to becoming a 21st-century parent.
As for me, I grew up with two sisters and I saw first-hand what teenage years are all about. As a prepubescent boy, I felt terrorized, scared, and I didn’t understand the changes my siblings were going through. But now as a stay-at-home dad, I have to be able to support my daughter in these challenging life transitions. Life changes are difficult for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for a teenager during these unprecedented times. As generations change, so do the rules of parenting, and for these reasons, I will attempt to provide you with a guide to parenting a teenager during these strange times.
Compassion starts with understanding teenagers are individuals. You will not be able to teach them how you were taught or bring up stories of “this was how I was raised”. To parent a 21st-century teen, you have to incorporate your moral and ethical beliefs along with their sense of individuality. If your teen knows you care about their thoughts and emotions, you will establish a level of trust in your relationship.
Trust and Respect
Respect is not a right, but a privilege. You have to earn respect. A trusting relationship with your teen is a respectful relationship. Set ground rules in accordance with your personal values and do not waver. If your acceptance level is different than your expectation level, you have an opportunity. Acceptance and expectation levels should remain consistent when raising a teen. If not, your teen will lose confidence in your parenting ability and turn away due to a shaky foundation.
Will your teen always want to talk about their bad day? Probably not, but don’t assume they don’t want to talk to you. Remember individuals need space, especially a teen. On the other hand, don’t walk away from an opportunity to have a conversation. When having conversations, you will need to differentiate between “friend” and “parent” conversations. The difference is a level of guidance needed. Stop trying to be their “best friend”.
Everyone has a line in the sand. Discuss these parameters with your teen. This goes back to the expectation/acceptance level. Along with boundaries, you will need to ensure firm consequences are in place. Empty “threats” or promises will only ruin trust and break down communication. If boundaries are set and you have an open line of communication, your teen will not be surprised when facing punishments if even they beg and plead their innocence.
As I stated above, I have the pleasure of having a teenage daughter. As the 21st century stay-at-home dad, I have to learn, adjust, and adapt to today’s 21st-century teen. If you are having difficulties with your teenager, follow these tips and you will realize it’s not so bad after all.