In handling adolescent problems, a road map could help:
1) Watch for symptoms. Spot them early. Address them immediately.
2) Take one problem at a time. Handling many at the same time could make the process complex.
3) Define the problem in terms they understand and relate to. For example: Coming home late at night. Show them how it impacts some of their interests and not how it affects the family – like the way they get late for tennis practice, which they enjoy.
4) Discuss a solution objectively, after examining options. Prepare thoroughly for the discussions. Let the homework include objections they are likely to raise. Listen carefully to what is said and unsaid – words and feelings.
5) Implement the plan with the help of the rest of the family, ensuring that no one in the family pokes fun at the child. However, be ready for broken promises and reviews.
6) Don’t get arm twisted or emotionally blackmailed. A cool head and a warm heart matter.
7) Enlist the support of someone they respect – outside the home; tell them that.
8) Be patient. Results will follow.
9) If conventional methods fail, let us not be ashamed or afraid to seek professional help.
10) Pray. Never give up.
Besides these steps, support from understanding people in school or college could make a difference; more so if children try hard to protect the good image that they have among peers and teachers.
The parenting journey is long, full of risks and sometimes thankless. “There are times when parenthood seems nothing but feeding the mouth that bites you” – Peter De Vries. But we cannot give up. What a vehicle, fuel and a road map are to a road trip, EXAMPLE, PARENTAL INSTRUCTIONS, and DISCIPLINE are to the parenting journey. Here, it is not a formula where E, PI and D add up, but a synergy of the three, where the result is more than the sum of the parts. If one key factor is omitted, the journey is a non-starter. Consistency matters. We, who begin well during Infancy and Childhood should not drop guard during Adolescence. Or, we, who have neglected parenting responsibility during Infancy and Childhood, cannot expect miracles if we wise up during adolescence. Start the journey right and stay the course, is axiomatic.
A rich gift we can give our children, in our efforts to raise them right, through the three stages, is for the spouses to love each other. If their mother is central to me, as I am to her, our children will certainly go well beyond celebrating Father’s and Mother’s Day.