The teenage years can be an emotional roller-coaster for all concerned. A gap can grow between parents and their children during adolescence because this age is driven a search for individual identity and competition.
Being a time of rapid physical development and profound emotional changes, it makes most teenagers/adolescents find it so difficult to navigate without conflicting with their parents. These changes are exciting, but can also be confusing and uncomfortable for child and parent alike.
A teenager is a person within the ages of 13 to 19 years old. When adolescents turn 20, they are no longer “teenagers” but “youths” because they are no longer in that developmental stage. However, the word “teenager” is often used interchangeably with “adolescent” depending on the context of discourse.
In this article, I’ll be sharing with you ten inner battles teenagers face and how parents can help them overcome these battles.
Identity is who a person is or the quality that makes the person who they are. Thus, a teenager in a bid to define who he is runs into conflicts between his quest for self-discovery and separation from the norms of the parents.
In this case, it would be best for parents to guide them through this phase by giving them sincere assurance.
Battle of Independence
There’s always a battle for independence that exists between teenagers and parents. Becoming prepared for adulthood is one of the crucial tasks of adolescence.
If you start observing this in the life of your teenager, then you should treat them with respect. Consult them, but don’t tell or force decisions on them.
Battle of pressure
The battle of pressure can come from the teenager’s friends or parents. Pressures from parents stem from coercing or telling a teenager to achieve what their parents couldn’t accomplish when they were younger, which may, as a result, bring conflict between the teenagers and their parents.
As a parent, you have to allow your teenagers to make decisions while standing as their guardians to proffer corrections where necessary. They don’t need to see you as their competitor but as a friend and parent, they can always confide in.
Battle of choice
Teenagers may have a differing choice from their parents’ and when this happens; they tend to have conflicting views.
As a parent, one of the most efficient ways to help your teenager make the best decisions is by providing a lot of guidance, but without overdoing it. Also being there for your teenager even when they fail is very important. When they see that you are always there with them, the tendency to conflict with you will reduce.
Battle of stigmatisation
Simply defined, the word stigma is a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, avoid, and discriminate against people.
When teenagers are stigmatised by the parents or people close to them as a result of their bad choices or addictions or health ground, they experience low self-esteem which can make them recoil into their shell. Any move to interact with them would be met with refusal, and this can bring about conflict between them and their parents.
As a parent, it would be best to provide the right support system to these teenagers because that’s when they need your support the most.
A breach of trust by you or a lack of emotional investment can cause trust issues between you and your teenager.
It would be best if parents sat back to ask their teenager questions and not being over-critical.
Model the expected behaviour you want from your teenager and lead by example. They will take a cue from you. There should be an open communication line between you and your teen, set clear expectations, give incremental freedom, discipline and don’t punish them.
Battle of timing
Teenagers face the battle of timing and are always torn between what to do and when to do it. The question every parent should answer is “are their teenagers doing the right thing at the wrong time”?
If the answer is in affirmative, then, it’s time to let them know that there’s time for everything.
Think of the consequences of choices – it could be positive or negative, be a positive influence and not a negative influence on your teen. Be assertive of what you want from them. Let them know who they are, so they don’t fall prey to getting validation from social media or the wrong way.
Teenagers are always in battle with their parents on who ought to accept correction; they expect parents to take correction, and parents want their teenager to take correction.
If this occurs between you and your teen often, then, what he needs are your ears, empathy and encouragement.
If they get these 3 Es from their peers instead of from you; they will go to their peers.
You must be able to apply punishment, and discipline–the purpose of punishment is to pay/suffer for breaking the rules for it not to occur in future. The prime focus of punishment is behaviour, while discipline is to build character. Punishment is short term, while discipline is long term. So choose which to apply wisely and when to apply it.
The battle of “why I’m I here?”
Having a direction/purpose in life makes a teen’s life worth living. A teenager with a purpose should know what wakes him up every day. The four quadrants for existence are a passion–what you love; vocation–what you are good at; mission–what you offer the world; profession–what you are paid to do.
As a parent, let your teenager pursue their reason for being. Don’t allow your teenager to destroy their support base but give room for them to negotiate it. Do not create reasons for your teenagers’ purpose, but help nurture the reason.
The battle of abuse and addiction
Abuse is misuse, or improper use of something while addiction is a disease in which a person is unable to stop using a substance or engaging in certain behaviour.
Teenagers in a bid to feel good, ease stress and feel among becomes addicted to drugs, toxic culture, alcohol, social media life, and digital life–this is known as dependent on external validation.
As a parent, it would be best if you watch out for behavioural changes in the life of your teenager. If any of these changes are noticed in your teenager, do not spy or accuse them of wrongdoing rather, encourage them to talk, avoid taking them for a drug test, and be honest with them while stating your concern.
Let there be an emotional investment in your teen because every decision that makes his dependence feel contested would be met with an aggressive reaction and trust issue.
The inner battles of teenagers discussed so far are the gateways for the devil to come into their lives and carry out the mission to steal, kill and to destroy (John 10:10).
The way of escape is only in Jesus because it all lies in whom you are in Jesus; define your identity in him, and it would only be natural for your teen to follow suit (John 14:6).
So, what are you waiting for? Start now to set the records straight with your teenagers, and you all would be glad you did.
Charles Imuzeze is the pastor in charge of RCCG, Christ Temple Parish, Lagos, and the convener, Teen Equip Series.