I have been blessed to have five children and there is no doubt about it, I feel privileged that in my lifetime I have become a dad five times. However, getting it right as a dad is incredibly difficult. I think I have bitten my tongue more times than I care to mention and I probably only have half a tongue left nowadays.
The big all encompassing question I ask myself is, would I change the way I have raised my daughters and my one son? The most likely answer is no, although in hindsight I may have tweaked it just a little bit.
Raising children in the world of technology that we now live in is like a minefield. You so often have to second guess their next move and that is really difficult for the simple fact that you have never experienced basically any of what they are experiencing today.
If I was raising my older children all over again I would definitely do it a bit different, not a lot, but as I said I would probably tweak it a little bit and try to be more aware of the warning signs of possible problems that they may be having. It is so easy to fall into a belief that if your child is smiling then life is good and there are no underlying problems, but would you be able to spot if there was a problem? It’s difficult, and I know I have missed it on a number of occasions.
Children today face a barrage of influences that as a child I never experienced, and a lot of those influences can shape and mess with our children’s minds. Which is why we should never be slow in obtaining counselling for our children if they need it.
There is a fine line that you have to walk where you protect your children and where you don’t invade their privacy, but would you invade their privacy even knowing that it could put a wedge between you and them that will possibly take a long time to remove? However, if you did you know it will protect them from harm. After all is that one the most important parts of being a parent? Protecting your child from harm and keeping them safe. It’s a difficult decision and how many parents have stood by and done nothing and then have to watch the consequences of doing nothing?
One of the biggest killer of teenagers today is suicide, that is a scary thought that somebody so young has found that the only way out is to take their own life, well it certainly scares me.
There comes a point in your child’s life where they become more self sufficient. They basically feel they don’t need you as much as when they were little. They can solve their own problems all on their own, but this is sadly so far from the truth. This is when they need us the most. Influences from others become more important to them and you fall into the belief that they are well-adjusted and doing fine, but possibly behind the mask of their smile is a very confused teenager who doesn’t know where and how they fit in with society. This is when you need to try to spot the issues. It’s very difficult I might add because teenagers are very good at hiding the truth.
I have raised three teenagers and I have often missed the signs of a problem because I thought they were emotionally mature enough to deal with life, but in all honesty they are not even close.
I have over the years questioned myself. Would I be able to spot if my children were taking drugs, drinking too much, being bullied in real life or online, or suffering from depression or having an unhealthy interest in some of the very bad things online?
The truth is NO! I don’t think I would have spotted it. The reason is simple. It’s because I fell into the belief that now they are growing up they can deal with all of that themselves. That could of been a fatal mistake.
For me it’s really difficult to spot a problem that a teenager may be having and how do you deal with it, if they are?
There is very little you can do without becoming some sort of a dictator and the danger then is that you end up pushing them further away and into their own world.
What I did do, which I believe has made it easier for my older children to get through their teenage years, was to give them time and to sit and listen to them. I truly believe if your teenager is asking to speak to you, stop what you are doing no matter how important it is and listen to them and talk to them. Help them solve any issues they have and solve it together. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Judging your teenage children’s decisions can be a dangerous game. It can easily lead to the lines of communication being shut down. You may not agree with their actions and that is usually because you can see the consequences because you are older and a bit more experienced, but judging is not always the answer. Sometimes talking it through will help them considerably more to understand why it wasn’t the best move they have ever made and let’s be fair as teenagers we have all made some really stupid decisions, and our teenage children won’t be any different. This is why I think talking it through with them is the answer. Prevention is always less painful than cure. For all of that we need to allow our teenage children to make bad decisions or actions, because it’s their way of learning and growing up to being well adjusted adults.
How do you approach your teenage children’s issues? Do you encourage them to talk and open up? I would love to hear in the comments below.