One of my parenting pet-peeve is that I am constantly falling behind the curve. In simple language it means that as soon as I feel I am able to manage a four year old child my child is already seven. As of now I was just beginning to feel that I could handle my 8 and 9 year old kids but I got a rude shock when I realized that they are 11 and 12 already.
The routine, working principles, ways of teaching and handling them again seem to be breaking down. My wife and I had developed a way of teaching them and it was working well for last couple of years.
Now, suddenly they have problems taking instructions from us. They do not want to adhere to the allotted screen-time. It has become impossible to un-hook them from TV.
The other day I was teaching math to my son and thought that I explained a concept well. When I tried to test his understanding a few days later, he could not explain it properly. When I scolded him for this, he told me,’ You don’t teach well.’ I have been teaching him since the beginning of school for last six years and this was never a problem. All my confidence gathered from scoring close to hundred percent marks in my board exams and clearing IIT entrance came crashing down.
Clearly, the kid has grown smarter. He has learnt a plethora of excuses and the ways of turning the table on the other party. I was secretly happy that this skill will be handy in future in dealing with his colleagues at work if they get too aggressive. But for now it is getting too much.
Since teenage parenting is made out to be such a scary phase, my wife and I are trying to be a bit ahead of the curve by reading a few books on the subject. But seeing the children turn into teenagers is a different experience.
Earlier when we used to tell my daughter,’ Why did you do this?’, should would take pains to explain what she did or why she didn’t. But now we hear in a weird tone,’ Wow!’.
It is difficult to understand what that ‘wow’ means. Is it an expression of fascination at our discovery or an outburst of sarcasm or plain frustration.
Truly, life is one step ahead of us, always.
I am sorry, I don’t have any easy tips on teenage parenting but here are some coping tips for all parents on how to keep learning:
· Talk to parents of older kids:
We generally tend to share our experiences with parents of kids of similar age group. This is helpful but if you want to stay on course with your child’s development, you need to talk a lot to people with a bit older children than yours. This can be tricky as it is tough to find such opportunities as you generally interact more with parents of your child’s classmates and friends. One tip would be to pick brains of such parents who have an older child as well. You need great conversational skills as the other person has no incentive to share these experiences with you. You need to poke them, provoke them and make them feel important to get this done.
· Reading, Reading, Reading:
As this is the internet age, make the most of it. Read as many blogs on parenting as possible. This also explains the proliferation of numerous parenting blogs. In general Huffington Post’s parenting blogs are nice. But there are parenting blogs available for parents in most localities that are more suited for their cultural and economic backgrounds. So chuck a few of your favorite TV shows and hunt for some good parenting blogs.
· Choose some good parenting books:
One book I recently read is Positive Discipline for Teenagers by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott. Take advice from people and read online reviews to decide which books to read. More than monetary investment, the books demand investment of time and hence it is important to choose wisely. When you read either a blog or book, do take notes and highlight important stuff. Very often we like something while we are reading but forget to action on it. This is general limitation and only way is to take notes.
· Let go:
This works with children of all age-groups. After you have done or said what you wanted to, you need to let go. The problem is that we get tried to our position. We make it an ego issue that how can the child not do as instructed or advised. In most cases, the child won’t do that. As I learnt with experience, the younger children may do it out of fear more than respect. The elder one’s don’t do it as soon as they move out of fear zone. There are nights when I go to bed that my my child would have been better off had he or she followed my advice. But at the end of day, an advice is just that – an advice. It’s not an order and ordering doesn’t work anyway.
· A child will do what she is meant to do:
At a more philosophical level, you cannot decide a child’s fate or keep her safe from the trials of life. Even though as a parent, you want to do your best, let them blossom on their own. We notice a spark of talent in a child and start putting pressure to develop that. In many cases, before we know, the spark is out. One parent shared her disappointment at the child leaving her swimming practice in spite of doing so well in inter-school competition. You need to provide motivation for them to continue but if they give up, you can do very little. So, don’t take it on your heart, move on and let them move on.
This is an ongoing process and I look forward to sharing more experiences with you. Feel free to leave a comment here or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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