It’s a bit of a rough ride, being a parent. Whilst you need to show you are the ruler of the roost, you don’t want to be the battle-axe all the time. Occasionally you may be guilty of snapping and then you have to deal with the guilt and saying you’re sorry without losing face.
Having a friendship with your children is important, especially through the teenage years. They need to feel they can talk to you, come to you for advice and trust you with their secrets. It’s very rare for a parent and child to have this kind of bond but there are ways you can increase this balance and ensure they are living their life well.
Talking is so important but you need to take a subtle approach to this. Get in touch with their dorky side by making a special trip after school for a treat day. Then get chatting about their day. Getting information out of a 12 year old can be like squeezing blood out of a rock, but persist and keep at it. Don’t react negatively to things that might shock you. Try to be the positive guidance, you want them to keep talking and they won’t if you freak out over their friends getting up to things they shouldn’t. Be positive you are being given this info.
Take small moments to make them smile. Pushing a plate with towards them with a tasty simpsons donut on it whilst they are studying will make them smile and mean the world to them. Little things have big impact. Remember that.
Times have changed a lot since we were children. Social pressure has increased and competition played out through material possessions is even greater. Gone are the days where bullying stopped in the playground. Now it follows them home via social media and they can experience embarrassing and constant torment played out via online groups. That said there are loads of positives about growing up with all this new technology, they can make friends with children from other schools, stay in touch with friends who have left and have a direct route to you should they need anything.
Giving them a little privacy is one of the most important things you can do, but you need to keep your eyes open for any signs they may be experiencing online abuse. If you are a cool, hip parent they may even let you into their social world so it pays to understand the new teenage lingo and what makes them tick or laugh. Keep your eye on their accounts from afar and make sure you have taught them the basics of staying safe on the internet.
Get to know who they are, not who you want them to be. Sometimes it is surprising to learn what they are really passionate about and watching your kids come to life as they talk about something they love is amazing. Even if the subject matter is computer games or the future of their favourite band.
Play together, laugh together and stay together.