Joanne Te Paiho, February 2011
Tena Koutou, Teens in relationship to their parents, this can be a great combination or this can be a relationship destined for upset and turmoil for all. So what do parents out there, need to know, to enable them to have as stress free a journey as they possibly can, alongside their young person. Firstly you may need to go back to be able to go forward. What has the history of your relationship been with your young person up to entering the teenage years? This will play a huge role in how you will relate to each other through the teenage period. Do you know your young person, who are their friends, what is their favourite food, music, what are they passionate about, what do they dislike, are you aware of when they are low, how do you approach this, how do you manage their anger, what presses their buttons, what are their personal needs e.g. some young people like their own space where as others may need to be surrounded by people. So I guess, what I'm putting out there is your RELATIONSHIP and COMMUNICATION with your young person is paramount to what occurs during these years. Get alongside them, get to know them. Find some common interest that you might both enjoy, whether it be fishing, eeling, kicking the ball around, shopping, or going out to cafe's for a cuppa or a kai and a catch up. In all of this we also have to keep in mind that it's not always cool for young people to hang out with their parents, so make sure you check this out and choose activities and outings where there isn't the chance of them bumping into any of their mates. Remaining connected seems to be the key to keeping the lines of communication open and it's even better if this connection has been established from the moment your young person entered your world.
Did you coo over them when they were babas, feel good in their presence and talk to them when you were bathing, changing and feeding them. Did you welcome their arrival and did they enter your family at a happy time in your life or a time when life was challenging. All of these factors play a part in how a child feels in their family unit. These feelings, if negative, can often rear their head in the teenage years and be expressed as anger and total disregard for everyone around them. Of course there are many other reasons that young people may begin to rebel and become disruptive but 9 times out of 10 this may be because of past childhood stuff. The teenage years may often be a time when rangatahi find their voice, something they may not have had when they were young children. Also be on the lookout for their unique way of communicating with you when they can't manage to voice it. Slamming doors, the way they may begin to dress, the friends they begin hanging with, their withdrawal away from the family, these are all unspoken ways that your teenager will be trying to communicate to you, without the use of words. Listen and remain aware of these signs. If you have some really serious concerns about your young person's wellbeing, do contact their school Counsellor or the Youth One Stop Shop, and seek some support through those avenues.
Take care, Nga Mihi, Jo