My Teenaged Daughter Drives Me Up The Wall!

Five (5) Habits for a Happy Family, or, Good Parents-Teens Relationships in a World of Rapidly Changing Lifestyles

TeenagerSixteen-year-old Nisha was back home unusually early at 6 p.m.
Surprised, her visiting Uncle asked her, "Hey, Nisha, why have you abandoned your friends so early today?"
Nisha replied in all earnestness, “You know, Uncle, it's dangerous these days to be out on a two-wheeler after dark – particularly when it's raining.”
Teenage girl on bike
Credit: JS North, CC-By-SA-2.0, flickr.com
Raising his eyebrows, the Uncle asked, "Where did you suddenly acquire this wisdom?"
“My classmate Ashok told me that he'll call up every evening at 6:30 to ensure that I'm at home. He's very concerned about me, Uncle,” she replied.
The Uncle retorted with a smile, “But if I remember right, your Mom's always been telling you not to be out after dark on the two-wheeler; you never seemed to take it seriously.”
“Oh, no, Uncle,” replied Nisha nonchalantly, “Mom just keeps saying these things. But Ashok, he's really and sincerely concerned about me. I don’t want to disappoint him.”
From another room, Nisha's mom shouted, "Yes, and I'm sure that concerned about how you look, the same Ashok also asks you to wear those tight shirts and short skirts. For you, Nisha, anything your mom says is stupid and old-fashioned. Everbody else is right!"
Nisha just shrugged and walked away, yelling, "There, all she can do is scream and pick on me. She doesn't like to see me looking good or happy!"

Why doesn't Nisha listen to me? Why doesn't Mom understand me?

Nisha is a typical example of the youth of the day. Nisha can drive her mom up the wall. And her mom can irritate Nisha out of her mind! There are persistent fights, shouting, screaming, interspersed with bouts of crying on either side. Perhaps it is because Nisha is growing up pretty fast, but her mother isn’t.

"When I was your age...": Most hated start of a sentence!

Kids say that the one sentence of their parents that irritates them most is the one that begins “When I was your age …” Even Nisha's mom when she herself was a teenager would have hated it. As far as kids are concerned, their parents were of their age in the Stone Age!

Teenager
Credit: Ed Yourdon, CC-By-SA-2.0, flickr.com

Parents: Your kids are not as careless as you think they are!

Dear Parents, your kids are in no way worse (or better) than what you were in your youth. It is just that today we have more consumerism, more fashion, more opportunities to “live it up.” So what? Living it up is not immoral.You need to differentiate between what is fashionable and what is immoral. Your daughter wearing a skimpy dress may just be making a statement of her identity – she is not necessarily promiscuous. Your son wearing an ear-ring or an eyebrow-ring isn't being abnormal or obnoxious.

Kids: Your parents do care!

Dear Kids, your parents are keen to give you the best of education and upbringing. Many have migrated to large cities to avail of the modern and affluent lifestyle that is not available in smaller towns or villages. You are being provided the best, and are being exposed to better than the best. It is thus very logical that as a youngster today, you want more and more. Money is flowing freely in your hands at earlier ages than before. And there is no dearth of malls, multiplexes, coffee-houses, restaurants and pubs for you to spend the money. So it bugs you when your parents expect you to live the austere life of the earlier generations.

Receding role of grandparents

Grandparents, who could have been a stabilizing factor in the family, are receding more into the background. Most often they do not live with the “nuclear” family, and even if they do, their voice is not heard in the babble of parent-child arguments. Obviously other relatives have an even lesser role to play, and are considered an intrusion by children.

Never too late to reduce tension, hypocrisy in parent-child relationships

Parents want their children to meet their relatives, attend marriages and religious functions; but, primarily, because they want to save their face in society, for very often they themselves dislike going there. There is so much of tension and hypocrisy in the wonderful relationship of parent and child. But it is never too late to bring about a change.

Five (5) Habits For a Harmonious, Happy Family Life, or, Good Parent-Teen Relationships

  • Avoid double standards in rules for behaviour. If you don't want your child to tell lies, backbite others, or shout to get her point across, your child should not see you doing all that. Parents should be and are role models for their children.
  • Communicate in an absolutely open manner. No opinions are to be repressed (“How dare you talk about your elders like that?”). Every family member should be given an opportunity to express their viewpoints.
  • Do not succumb to peer pressure. Both parents and children should refrain from succumbing to peer pressure. (Parent: “Geeta, I trust you 100% and I know that Ravi is a good boy. But what will the neighbours say if a boy drops you home on a motorbike at 10 o’clock in the night?” Teenager: "Why shouldn't I smoke when all my friends do so? Some of them even smoke in front of their parents.")
  • Enforce discipline consistently. When you as a parent want or need to enforce discipline, it should be consistent at all times. Follow these steps: explain the action, tell how it affected the other person, suggest alternatives, seek explanations, and then clearly describe the action to be taken in future.
  • Spend quality time together. Families should spend quality time together, with consensus among all members, doing a common activity that everyone enjoys (certainly not ones such as attending marriages, going on pilgrimages, or visiting the ancestral village).

Parent-child relationships, especially when the children are teenagers, can be a joy of life or a pain in the neck – depending on how parents and their teenaged children choose to interact. Even with rapidly changing lifestyles, both parents and their teenaged children can, with the right habits, create a wonderful family together where everyone is a dear friend!

By Ali Khwaja

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