Teen Issues

Living with a parent like my mother was very difficult for me growing up. My parents have been divorced since I was five and as such myself and my younger brother lived with my mother and saw our father at regular intervals. As such, and because I am the eldest, Mum used to rely on me a lot. On top of my schoolwork, for example, I was expected to have the house spotless by the time she got home from work. I was responsible for chores such as vacuuming, washing dishes, dusting (sometimes) and keeping the house tidy in general…the house that is, not just my bedroom! Mum rarely thanked me and we always fought because I was never allowed to go out with my friends, forbidden to attend parties and constantly told that I was an unappreciative, selfish and often stupid little b*ch. I was always made to feel guilty for loving my father and wanting to spend time with him and my mother used to say that I reminded her so much of him that it was sickening. I used to say some horrible things in return, like how she preferred my brother over me, how she didn’t love me and how I couldn’t wait to get away from her. But I never told her that I hated her.When I turned seventeen I moved out and in with my boyfriend of a year and a half because I was so physically and emotionally drained from having to put up with the fighting.

That was a year ago, and my mother and I have the best relationship I could hope for. We hardly ever raise our voices to each other and now I actually want to spend time with her…so much so that after I have visited her I crave her all over again – no one can give a “Mummy hug” like your Mum!Even though I do things that she may not approve of (like the fact that I am about to become a mother myself) and even though she does things I sometimes don’t like (such as insist that her way is always right just because she’s the mother and I’m her daughter) we can agree to disagree and she can finally allow me to make my own decisions (not that she has much choice, now) and allow me to learn the hard way, as she puts it. It has taken all my eighteen years for her to say that she’s proud of me, but the words ‘better late than never’ always cross our minds.

I know that being a teenager – like being a parent – is not an easy thing. We tend to think that parents don’t understand us and parents think that we are deliberately ignoring them all the time. Both are true to some extent. As a teenager, my advice is try to put yourself in your parents’ shoes – what would you do/say if it were your daughter or son? Also, try to be patient and calm – parents don’t always realize that certain things have changed since they were our age. Explain how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. For example:
“I feel like you’re punishing me for no reason, because I have done what you asked me to do but you still won’t let me go out and I don’t understand why! What have I done wrong?” This will often make them think and it shows that you are trying to understand what they want of you. Mums and Dads, on the flip side try to be patient and understanding of your teen. They want to experience life and there is so much to do that they feel they have to get it all in ASAP. Think back to when you were their age and how you felt when you were restricted by your parents. Think about why and try to explain your fears to them. For example:
“I’m sorry you feel like I’m punishing you, but I don’t want you to go out tonight because I am afraid that something bad will happen to you.” Wherever possible, try to establish a compromise where both sides can win and be happy with an outcome…
“OK, look. If I allow you to go out tonight can I trust you to be home at 10pm and not drink any alcohol?”
“How about this: I’ll be home at 10pm but can I have just one drink?”
“As long as it is just one and it isn’t mixed with something else. One beer is fine, as long as your friend can drive you home”.
“OK, deal!” And guys – STICK TO YOUR COMPROMISE! This goes for parents AND their kids. And appreciate it. Teens, thank your parents for understanding; even though you may not be totally happy with the outcome or understand why your parents do/say something, be grateful for the fact that you got half of what you asked for instead of nothing!

As long as there is open and honest communication, parents can feel like they have a good relationship with their teens and teens don’t have to feel like their parents are being too demanding. Compromising is always a good way to learn more about what the other party is feeling and wanting. So here’s the lowdown:

1. Be patient
2. Be honest and trust that the other person is being honest, too
3. Hear what the other person is saying and try to imagine yourself in their position
4. Establish a compromise if a straight out solution can not be met
5. Stick to the compromise and appreciate and respect it and the other person for compromising in the first place.

No relationship – especially one between a parent and their child – is worth bitter resentment over demanding parties…BELIEVE ME! Even though I chose to leave home it still took these basic steps – for both of us to apply, mind you -for us to fully appreciate the other’s situation. However, once we did life was much nicer around the other person and trust me – it’s worth the effort!