Spend quality time with your teen!

Spend quality time with your teen!

The teenage period in every child’s and parents’ life can be deemed as troublesome. It is a difficult chapter of growing years and should be handled delicately by parents. Being a single parent to a teenage kid is hard, and lack of attention makes the child rebellious

The teenage period in every child's and parents' life can be deemed as troublesome. It is a difficult chapter of growing years and should be handled delicately by parents. Being a single parent to a teenage kid is hard, and lack of attention makes the child rebellious

Q: My daughter is 16. She was a good student until recently. Suddenly, her grades have dropped. She is failing in all subjects. Has very wayward friends. Recently, I caught her smoking…she admitted that she is also experimenting with drugs. She has a boyfriend, who takes her to parties. She even comes home drunk. I am a single mother and she is my only child. I have to work to make ends meet. She blames me for abandoning her. Please help!

A: Hello madam! Being a single parent takes double the effort when raising a teenager. Your daughter is going through a phase of the troubled teen, whose defiant behaviour also sometimes can be a sign of wanting help or loving attention. While academic performance is one of the indicators of her interest in being on the regular track, what could have been the other causative factors for her sudden change and lack of interest?

It's good that you were observant to find her smoking, which also revealed that she is experimenting with drugs. While hormones do play a role during the teen years, it is usually the emotional vulnerability that makes them susceptible to make unhelpful choices. As a parent, however busy or difficult things are for you, think about:

l Whether you are communicating enough, in a quality manner, with your child?

l Remember that quality time spent together compensates for the lack of quantity.

l In the pursuit of academics, were your daughter's interests and hobbies kept aside? This is often seen when a parent is worried about their child's future and want to secure skills and academic accolades that would be important for career success. If so, try to explore hobbies together, attempt to learn about what she likes even if it isn't particularly interesting to you. Plan to do something new together that is purely for fun and connection.

l Always be aware of the friends that your child has, which means that you have to be friends with her friends.

l Involve yourself and try to know what she likes to do, and what she likes about them.

l Don't scold or judge, instead try to find out why she likes them or what she looks forward to.

l Wrong choices in friendships can happen when a child is looking to be a part of a 'popular gang', looking 'cool'. Find out if she is feeling excluded by others, or had friendship ups and downs etc.

l Make her aware of her value, and that you do care for her. When she is confident of her worthiness, she is also likely to be able to choose friends and a boyfriend who values her and supports her goals.

l Don't forget to take care of yourself, relax once in a while, and be kind to yourself. You are a role model for how a woman values herself, even in challenging times, and can inspire her.

l You haven't mentioned the circumstances, which lead to you being a single parent, but they also play a role now in how your relationship with her will develop. As she mentioned feeling abandoned, try to talk to her about those situations and what may have been your circumstances then.

l Communicate what it feels like for you to be trying to balance things, in a way that doesn't make her feel guilty or angry, but to help her understand where you come from.

l Psychotherapy can always help you communicate and connect and work with addictive behaviour of drinking and smoking.

l Most importantly, remember to show your commitment to being there for her, in words and actions. All the best!

- Vasuprada Kartic, Anthroposophic Counsellor and Psychotherapist

- Do you have any relationship related queries or issues with your friends, loved ones or family? For informed advice by professionals, send in your questions to [email protected]

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