How to love your teenager

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It is easy enough to love babies. Even when they’re puking down the back of your shirt, they are inherently lovable. But they grow – it can be a lot harder to love adolescents.

I’ve seen it on numerous wild-life programmes – the young wildebeest or bear cub or gosling or whatever, is eventually pushed away by its mother and out of the family circle. I’m not a biologist, and the programmes don’t actually show this, but I imagine that this happens when the young animal starts running up huge cell phone bills, listens to loud awful music and talks back to the head of the herd with a sassy smart mouth.

Realise that your love might not be reciprocated, at least in the short term. If you want guaranteed loyalty, love, respect and affection – maybe you should buy a dog, because there may well be a period when you get precious little of it from your teenager. You will need grace – the virtue of extending love even if it is not responded to. Persevere, though, and you will be rewarded with a happier home, less stress, and a lifetime of loving relationship with your child.

Nothing severs communication with a teen worse than parental anger. Here’s a tip – make a list of all the things your teenager does that makes you mad. Now, go through the list and cross off all the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Save your anger only for those things which have lasting moral, legal or physical consequences. There’s so much that we could blow our stack at, but most of it, honestly, you’ve just got to shrug your shoulders at.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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