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Teens and their relationships


parent-child-talkTeenage or adolescence is an age marked by not only rampant hormonal and physical changes but also by intense emotional upheavals. The way a parent deals with their children in their teens can make or break the parent – child relationship for decades to come.

Many a time, parents make the fatal mistake of trying to control every aspect of their teen’s life. Even if the intentions are good, controlling behaviour of parents can do serious damage. It is, therefore, extremely important that as parents or caregivers, we adults lend support to our teen’s choices and thoughts, irrespective of whether we agree or disagree with them. (Having said that, it doesn’t mean that if your teen is in a difficult situation, for e.g., toying with the idea of trying alcohol you don’t intervene.)

Let’s focus our discussion on how to deal with the knowledge that your teenage boy or girl is actively dating someone. In most parts of our country, the idea that a teenager is bound to experiment with relationships in the growing up years is hard for people to digest. Naturally, teenagers from such a setting may not open up about their relationships. So, it is important for teenagers to have an environment, especially at home, where they can talk about their relationships and perhaps even sexuality. Simply put, if you as parents don’t answer your children’s queries, they will get the answers any way, may be through friends or sources who may not be equipped with the correct information.

So, assuming you have enabled the environment and kept communication channels open, when your 15-year-old tells you that he/she is in a relationship with someone, how should you react? Will you scold the teenager for focusing on things not related to studies? Will you bar the teen from venturing out of the house or to hang out with friends, especially ban meeting this special person? The answer, of course, is NO. The moment you choose any of these options, you are at the risk of alienating your teen. So what should be done instead?

– When your teen opens up about a relationship to you, the best thing would be to lend a supportive and listening ear, irrespective of how much you approve or disapprove of such a relationship. If you become interrogative or show your disapproval, your teen will mostly stop confiding in you in the future.
– Now that you have heard your teen’s story and gained trust by not preaching anything and found that your teen is willing to listen to your comments on the relationship, it would be nice to tactfully share your views on being involved in serious relationships early in life. Whatever you say (and that’s your viewpoint so I won’t make any suggestions here), be as casual about it as you can without appearing to impose your thoughts. Share your views as if you are giving them ‘food for thought’. This will not only help your child see your point of view but also feel a sense of responsibility for one’s own actions.
– In the scenario that something untoward happens in your teen’s relationships and he/she discusses the same with you, no matter how angry this information makes you, you have to remember that you are probably the only person your child can trust. So listen, offer support and if you really feel you need to impose some restrictions then talk it out with your teen and arrive at mutually agreeable solutions.

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Shobhika Jaju is a NET qualified psychologist who would love to be reborn as a shrink every single time. She is the founder of Silver Linings: Guidance & Counselling Centre, in South Goa, & hence is effectively putting her love for psychotherapy & her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology to good use. Shobhika also works at Little’s School, Fatorda (Goa) & writes for several print and online media on a regular basis. She facilitates workshops on topics promoting personal enhancement & spreading mental health awareness. She is affiliated to the American Psychological Association, Bombay Psychological Association, Goa Psychological Association & the Movement for Global Mental Health. Her website can be accessed at silverliningsgoa.com.


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