Recently, the topic of interest amongst my clients is parenting styles. More specifically, which of the four parenting styles – Authoritarian, Authoritative, Passive, and Neglectful – is the best strategy when parenting teenagers.
The transitional period in which a teenager becomes a young adult can and will present parents with new and immensely challenging impediments. So, how do we know what to do when these challenges arise? What is the best way to motivate our teenagers without a complete meltdown? How can we both cultivate a symbiotic, lifelong relationship with our teens while simultaneously allowing the opportunity for autonomous growth and development through our guidance and safety?
The style of parenting we choose can be the difference between having a tumultuous relationship with our teen or raising an autonomous, independent, and emotionally intelligent human being. Too often as a therapist, I have seen teenagers struggling to find purpose and meaning in their lives, a problem to adulthood if not addressed.
They are faced daily with contradictions and beliefs that the value of an individual is measured solely by accomplishments and successes. Rather than by their individuality, their unique traits in their personalities, or their contributions to both joyous and challenging moments.
Children are taught they can only achieve success and overall worthiness through their academic accomplishments. They are taught their test scores, athletic achievements, and grade point averages determine their ability and potential. This messaging needs to STOP. Our children and teens are extensions of ourselves. They need to be taught their contribution to this world, family, and community, is not solely measured by how high their GPA is or how many A’s they receive in a quarter. Instead, their contributions to this world are exhibited and measured by the kindness they show, the patience they practice, and the love they share. Especially through their failures and mistakes. These aspects are what we should cherish and celebrate.
As parents, guardians, and role models, we can teach our children and teens they are worthy, capable, and our future. Their failures and mistakes will guide them along their life journey. These same failures and mistakes will create the person we love and support. The person that will rally behind us and keep us safe.
While it is essential to acknowledge our children’s accomplishments and potential, it is much more important to consider our children’s feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Allow your children to make mistakes and learn from them. Encourage them to explore their values and reasoning. Provide them with the opportunity to create
- a voice of their own,
- individualized thinking, and
- a sense of autonomy.
Another common mistake families make is using comparison as a motivational tool. Many times, families with siblings compare each child. This can both damage the children’s perception of self and create unnecessary competition and resentment in the household. Each of us is unique with unique capabilities. By comparing, we only limit our children’s potential and inadvertently show them they are not enough.
The next time your teen makes a mistake, take a breath, share your gratitude for having the opportunity to be their parent, and explore where they went wrong. What they could have done differently.
Alternatively, when they accomplish something they are proud of, explore that achievement, their opinions, and their feelings in response to what they believe is the achievement.
Being a parent is arguably the most challenging job in the world while also being the most rewarding. You may find that no one parenting style may fit all the challenges presented when raising teenagers. We may have to use a combination of strategies when motivating or guiding them.
However, by considering the value we place on accomplishments and achievements, rather than the development of the unique individual, we work against our children instilling values with less importance.
Instead, we should encourage independence, and individuality, allow them the opportunity to make mistakes, and nurture their growth as emotionally intelligent contributors to society.
P.S. To schedule an appointment with Tiffany, you can reach out to Carolina Navarro, our Intake Coordinator, at 305-445-0477.
QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Mental health is an achievement that we have to actively maintain for the rest of our conscious
life.” – Tiffany N. Perez, LMHC