I often receive questions about raising teenagers as a single parent. A teenager was seemingly not performing well in school work despite mama making different attempts to offer tuition help. This single mom also experienced difficulty and frustration as she does not have a lot of time to check on his school work as she needs to work overtime and sometimes comes home late. On top of this, the teenager son does not seem to be responding to mom's effort of reaching out to help.
This first thing that I would l like to say to mama is to be gentle and patient with yourself. You have come a long way in bringing up your children on your own while carrying on with a professional life at work. You have made conscious effort to give the best to your teenager and are trying to raise him in the best way you know how.
I would like to invite you to celebrate who you are and what you have accomplished. Know that each day you have the opportunities to learn new lessons as you are presented with new challenges of a growing teenager at home!
Know also that you cannot control your children, especially your teenagers! However, you can begin to influence them if you create a level of mutual trust and respect for them. This is so important today as teenagers are influenced by the people they chat with on the internet, the blog posts they read, the social networking group they join, the media and their peers.
I may not have teenagers but I was once a teenager and I can remember how difficult a time it was for me, my siblings and my mom:
- I think communication is one of the keys to solving any relationship issues. We want to let our teenagers know we are open and ready to talk (or better still listen) and be there for them. We want to be alert when they do not talk to us for long periods of time
- If you suspect something is not right, seek to understand, ask but not push for answers. Let us remember that teenagers need approval and encouragement, they want to know that we are happy when they do or made effort
- We also want to be careful that we don't punish them for being honest with us, as they open up themselves; otherwise they will end up keeping secrets from us. We want our teenagers to be honest with us so we know what is going on in their world in order that we may help keep them out of dangers and troubles
- Your teenagers know all about your hot buttons! When you all stressed out and tensed, they would not want to be near you nor open up to you. When you are relaxed and centred, your teenagers can sense that and you are in a more conducive environment for open connection.
- You don’t have much time to spend with your children as you need to work and take care of house chores, but if you can set the intention for a more relaxed, open and trusting environment with the children, the relationship can take another step forward. Try this and see what results your get.
Do be patient though; this is a marathon and not a 100-meter dash.