Thursday, November 27, 2014

Teenager 101

When I have the thoughts to write this piece I googled it first wanting to see if anybody ever wrote it before. And wallahhh... what do you know, they even have a course on this.. That you have to pay a hefty sum to attend. That shows how serious this topic is. One psychology site is provided by a teen counselor who spends his life solving teenager's problem. I cringed at the thought!

I have 3 teenagers in the house now. 2 boys and one girl. I think the monster in me is appearing more and more than I like to admit. Teenage years are perhaps one of the most trying moments in one's life (but isn't life a trying moment all the way??) in a course of growing up. It is the time that may define who they are or what they are going to be once they reached adulthood. I, as a parent, never knew this would also be the trying moment of parenthood. Though this is the time I as a parent should be a friend to my teenage child, that's what Islam teaches us. Imagine how much patience you must have to be their friends!!

Among the traits that I notice of being teenagers:

1- I want to explore - they like to explore things, what they like and what they don't like. Not necessarily what's right and wrong. So this is where parents should come in, to advice them what's right and what's wrong. This is the time when we should be their friends. We have to guide them to the right activities, the right path. We have to know who their friends are and be friends with them as well. We always have to stir them away from the bad. When you become their friends they will share with you their stories, hence you will know what they do. Don't be too authoritative. That's what most teenagers hate the most. Be lenient but stern.

 2- I'm right - perhaps it is the culture shock that they have somehow to be able to think for themselves. They think they are always right, they are the best in whatever they do, their ways matters the most, they must get what they want. I think this is where most of the conflicts between parents and teenagers arise. It is how the parents tackle this problem will give you the right solutions or the solutions that will benefit both parties. I am still tackling this issue.. It's very difficult to argue with a teenager in a non authoritative manner. The most you can do is clench your teeth!!

 3- I must have the sense of fashion - this is another headache trying change a wardrobe from a childlike to the so-called in trend fashion that may change every season! But perhaps the most difficult is trying to find the right size when he/she is in the middle size, too big for kids size but too small for adult size. And yet they want to be dressed like an adult! Perhaps in some part of the world it does not have this problem.. but it does in this region.

4- I must have the latest gadget in the market - for affluent ones, this may not be a problem.. but for me it is among the biggest problem. Not only we cannot afford it, I also think it poses some threats to their growing up. Being in the hi-tech age today, not having a gadget of any sort is considered backward.. especially in a teenage world. They forget that it is us who earns in this household, not them. We decide what they can buy and what not. Cruel it may seem but I make them save for their own gadgets from their allowance or whatever money they get from relatives and friends, or even they can find ways to make money. So far this works fine but still very much under our supervision.

5- I must spend time with my best buddies - they think going to malls with their parents is somehow awkward or embarrassing. This is the time where friends or any other teenagers are all they adore, hate or look up to. Peers play highly significant roles in their lives. This is the time parents should introduce role models to their teenagers not let them choose their own. parents must make sure they follow only the right role models, suitable to their lives, faith and environment. People around them will really shape their lives, including us parents.

Perhaps these are the most common things that we worry about teenagers. And I believe this goes across the universe regardless of culture and religion. For me, I believe in trusting your child, believing in them at the same time guiding them. Let them go through every child has to go through but hold their hands along the way, don't let go, regardless of what people say. Don't be too overbearing but just enough to make sure he becomes a person, a significant one to you and himself/herself.

And this for sure, is my holy owned opinion, experience and observation. It may not be true to some as each teenager is different and each parent is different.