Have you ever felt like everything you ever knew about parenting does not apply anymore? It just does not work. You hit a wall!!!
Well, you are not alone… You may want to have a look at the Links & Resources tab on this website. And while you are searching for books, it might be helpful to observe your teen’s mood and find a moment when they look like they can engage in a conversation with you.
Ask them about their idea of freedom. What is it that they want? When they start talking, listen! Let them express themselves. Then ask them if their ideas and wishes are more about freedom from someone or something or about freedom to do something of their choosing. Most teens focus on freedom from – usually from parental values, which they perceive as limitations to their independence and self-expression. Explain that being free from parental guidelines needs to be built on trust, open communication and clear intentions. Make sure your explanations are short and concise! Ask your teen what they want. What would they like to use their freedom for? Do not interrupt. Focus on listening and understanding their perspective. Model for them how to listen actively. Ask questions. Say how important it is for you to understand. You might be surprised by their depth and thoughtfulness. If they slide back to advocating for freedom from your ideas, gently bring them back and ask again: What would you like to do? How does your freedom/independence look like? How will you use it? It could be anything. For example: If you go to bed one hour later, what do you want to do with that time? If you go out with your friends more often, how is that going to make your life better? What do you want to do? What do you want for yourself? Listen to understand, not to prove them wrong.
Teens have a lot of energy and so many ideas. If we help them direct that potential towards creativity and exploration of their emerging self, we are helping them formulate their hopes and dreams and we are supporting them in developing skills they need in order to fulfill those hopes and dreams.