“Growing up” is something we all must do, and the transition from teenager to adult is the hardest part.
The effect that puberty can have, varies drastically from individual to individual. Trying to find acceptance whilst navigating their way through all of life’s confusing social mistakes and relationships is hard.
When I was young, those crazy moments when I or one of my friends did something stupid are only hazy memories discussed at school reunions because thankfully, there are no photos to prove it.
These days those “mistakes”, be a sending dick pic, sexting or a being captured vaping by someone’s phone can live on forever and posted for the world to see. This will induce judgement from anyone and everyone including the teenager them self, their parents, friends and random online bullies.
With a single case of public humiliation being enough to push a child to thoughts or attempts of suicide, these are delicate times indeed.
How can I help my teenager you ask?
Stopping teenagers making mistakes by wrapping them in cotton wool doesn’t always protect them, it can sometimes smother them. Shouting at them, grounding them, taking their phone off them and burying them in the backyard, I mean their phone isn’t the answer either, as this can create greater division.
Allowing them to learn life’s lessons whilst still somewhat safely tucked under our wing at home provides an opportunity to love and guide them towards becoming good humans. It also ensures someone is there to pick them up and dust them off afterwards when they do stuff up, and they will!
We need to listen and pay attention.
Have open ended conversations about the possible repercussions of sharing private photos, drinking too much, or taking an unknown substance.
A great way to start this conversation with your teenager and not appear like a control freak, is to ask them to look out for their friends.
If they see a friend getting intoxicated or about to make a silly decision, your teenager should help them. Maybe they will even call you, OR triple-0 if they need urgent help.
This teaches your kids to care for others and themselves.
Being there for your teenager no matter what, will make your life more interesting and sometimes far harder than expected. The rewards however are worth it as it builds trust, and trust is the foundation of all great relationships.