Teenage parenting can be a daunting task for parents even though the realities presented by this phase of development are manageable when a deep and cordial relationship between parents and children is cultivated at an early stage.
Realities of teenage parenting
The teen years mark an important period in any family owing to the common challenges experienced by families. Adolescents face extreme changes in hormonal and emotional levels as reflected in the way they deal with themselves and others.
Sometimes teenagers may feel misunderstood by thinking that no one can understand their feelings. Parents are usually the first source of blame among teenagers. Teenagers often feel lonely, angry, or confused while they have to deal with very important issues related to identity, peer relations, sexual behavior, alcohol and drugs.
As such, a parent can become frustrated and angry due to the fact that his/her child does not respond to parental authority. Methods of discipline that were once effective appear to have no positive effect in the current age. Hence, some parents feel helplessness at times when it comes to parenting their teenage sons and daughters. Some of them live under constant fear of choices made by adolescents.
The relationship between parents and teenagers are usually filled with conflicts due to typical issues such as the choice of friends, time spent by other teenagers, performance in school, consumption of alcoholic beverages and other drug abuse problems, dating, relationships, and sexuality; dressing styles, general grooming as well as using make ups (Lachance, Burrus & Scott, 2012).
A teenager who is in pursuit of identity and autonomy may eventually conflict with parents. Although it is important to give a teenager some space gradually as he/she grows up and becomes more independent, responsible and autonomous, parents must remain vigil and ensure that their children do not adopt risky and self-destructive behaviors.
Generally, families can overcome this challenging phase and guide their teens towards healthy development. It is also vital to keep in mind a few warning signs emanating from behavioral changes of their teens. When dangerous warning signs are noticed, parents may require external professional assistance. These signs include aggressive or violent behaviors among adolescents, alcohol and drugs, promiscuity, truancy, problems with the law and escape behaviors.
If parents have to resort to violence to maintain discipline, it is also a signal that we need to stop and think, seek help and adopt other more effective strategies for instilling discipline. It is also a challenge for parents who live close to their teenagers and are supposed to tolerate their misunderstandings and be attentive to what is going on without being too obtrusive.
Allowing teenager to go about experimenting with personal decisions and receiving blames from them at the same time can be equally a very challenging reality in teenage parenting. From birth, it is crucial to track how to develop the parent-child relationship.
Some teenage parenting challenges experienced by modern parents originate from poor parenting skills since birth. This implies that successful parenting of a teenage should not be initiated when a child has already reached the teen years (McKelvey, Burrow, Balamurugan, Whiteside-Mansell & Plummer, 2012).
When teenagers are not parented well, they may easily engage in premarital affairs and end up as teenage parents. Parents who take care of teenagers alongside their children even find it more difficult to cope with the realities of teenage parenting. If you spend enough time watching talk shows during the day, you are most likely going to meet pregnant teenagers who have opted to keep and raise their babies.
If you listen keenly to the young teenage women, you can probably get an idea of their skewed understanding of fatherhood. However, one of the most disturbing realities of teen pregnancy and parenting is that mothers have minimal ability to conceptualize life’s eventualities that lie ahead (Lachance, Burrus & Scott, 2012).
Surveys have shown that some teenagers believe that by having a child, they finally find a connection with another person. However, younger teens seem to be relying on their children to provide emotional connectivity. Worse still, they have no real grasp of how the realities of teen pregnancy and parenthood will change their lives.
There are about half a million births to American women under the age of twenty each year. One of the saddest of teen pregnancies and parenting reality is that many teenage girls who become pregnant are so ignorant of reproductive issues that they do not realize their condition until late in pregnancy.
This is particularly worrying because several birth defects can result from the behavior teenage mothers. Several teens are often afraid to admit their pregnancies until it is impossible to hide them. They may even reduce their food intake in order to conceal the pregnancy.
In spite of the challenges faced by parents when raising up teenagers, it is crucial to mention that the entire parenting input can be a very fulfilling task to undertake. A lot of happiness is witnessed in families that live harmoniously as a unit and help each other when need arises. The most important factor that parents should put into consideration when raising their teens is the developmental changes that take place in various stages. In other words, each stage of development has specific tasks to be accomplished.
While children at this stage tend to be highly unpredictable in terms of character traits or personality, it can be a lot easier for parents who understand the ever changing needs of the teens with respect to the stage of development. Responsible parents should help their teenage children to identify and grow personal identities so that they can transit smoothly to early adulthood life.
Although some parents might dismiss their teenage sons and daughters as source of problems within a family set up, it is vital to mention that they are well endowed with talents and skills that they can utilize and establish stable personalities.
Most parents who have already brought up successful teenagers unanimously agree that it is better to start effective parenting at an early stage than wait until children graduate into teenage years. Bringing up responsible young people who are eventually expected to be responsible adults can be a reality if parents offer a presumably safe and caring home setup. Mutual respect, trust and honesty should also be visualized within a household.
Teenagers who grow up in volatile families characterized with domestic violence, divorce and separation are least likely to be responsible adults. This implies that teenagers can be best modeled by examples. Parents should be the most immediate role models for children. Additionally, teenagers should be taught on the realities and challenges of life. Parents ought to be persistent in educating their children on the best morals standards expected of them even as they transit through adulthood.
These are complicated growth patterns that start and progress gradually during childhood. A teenager will be less stressful when parents and other family members work together on prevailing tasks. Parents should try to spend some time with each child, especially if they are discussing difficult or sad themes. This creates a basis of trust that allows a child to discuss with parents the “problems and conflicts that arise during adolescence” (Bert 2011, p.74).
A parent-child relationship full of conflict and tension in the pre-adolescence stage may signal the need for professional help. After reaching the adolescence stage, human beings suffer physical and mental changes that influence their behavior and perception of the immediate world. The teenage phase is an exploration stage characterized by constant exchange of views in which the concept of others becomes extremely important.
Therefore, adolescents are quite sensitive to criticism and rejection of those around them (Bert, 2011). The manner in which parents address teenagers plays a key role in this stage of life. It is sometimes very difficult to deal with teenagers although there are practical tips that can help us to make some positive progress. Needless to say, it is vital to have a clear concept of the values we want to instill in teenagers.
Parents should talk about sex in a free and open manner. This may especially be useful in evading teenage pregnancies and subsequent compounding of problems. Candid talk establishes a bond of trust between parents and children and equally enables them to protect themselves from hazards.
Parents should also talk about methods of pregnancy protection even though it might appear embarrassing to do so. It is worse to live with the bitter experience of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy than to discuss sexuality in an open manner. Information about physical and mental risks involved in premature sexual relationships should be made clear to teenagers.
Bert, S. C. (2011). The influence of religiosity and spirituality on adolescent mothers and their teenage children. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(1), 72-84.
Lachance, C. R.., Burrus, B. B. & Scott, A. R. (2012). Building an evidence base to inform interventions for pregnant and parenting adolescents: A call for rigorous evaluation. American Journal of Public Health, 102(10), 1826-1832.
McKelvey, L. M., Burrow, N. A., Balamurugan, A., Whiteside-Mansell, L., & Plummer, P. (2012). Effects of home visiting on adolescent mothers’ parenting attitudes. American Journal of Public Health, 102(10), 1860-1862.