Your child wants to do things and there are times when you don’t even know what these are. Frequently, it seems that your child, who used to share everything with you, is increasingly becoming a stranger. There appears to be a slight divide. There seems to be a significant disparity in what you imagine your child to be and what s/he may actually be. But where did this gap emanate from? Somewhere the connection broke. Let’s see how you can restore the connection.
Gone are the days when your child would listen to what you had to say. Now don’t expect them to follow you blindly. Things have begun to change. Your child is learning to think for himself/herself and is beginning to ask questions. Children need you to give them logic and not just a diktat. So, the first important step is to realise the need for a change in your approach to your child.
Be a friend
Change your parenting style from what it was when your child was younger. Treat him/her as an individual with his/her unique interests, ideas and opinions. You need to value what s/he thinks. Being a friend means giving one’s children the space to be able to talk about things and express themselves and not feel judged at all times.
Appreciate their likes
A teenager can be opinionated. S/he would have his/her own interests, likes and dislikes. Being open to experiencing those likes and interests is an essential first step to developing a good rapport with him/her. Keeping an open mind is necessary. This also implies that once you have experienced something, then you can also dismiss it or express your true feelings about it and try and logically explain things the way they are, to your adolescent.
Allow them to be their age
You have your opinions, ideas, beliefs and expectations about how a child should to be raised. You may not necessarily agree with many things that others may allow. However, you would need to understand that with time, things change and you may need to make some adjustments here and there. You should not make an issue of everything with your adolescent. Decide on the things that are extremely important and ensure that they are followed. The rest you can let go.
Give diverse exposure
For well-rounded development of your adolescent, expose him/her to different experiences, which would also help the two of you to be connected.
Also, this makes teenagers better at problem-solving, decision-making and thinking for themselves as well, which is the ultimate goal of a parent.
The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Max Healthcares