There are many positive traits in a teenager that can help a single parent cope better with the numerous chores at home. As teenagers are old enough to care for themselves for most things, the parent need not worry about basic needs. However, the teenager years are also characterised by rebellious behaviours, hurtful words, late nights and plenty of door slamming. The parent will need to worry about issues such as bad/rebellious behaviours, pre-marital sex as well as experiencing with smoking and drinking. Other issues such as personal self-image, self-esteems and confidence also become more evident as the teens began to find his or her identity through the interactions with friends.
In a single parent family, it can be difficult for the parent to stay sane during the teenage years, but there are always ways to survive it. What can you do to stay sane? Read on to find out!
Respect your child
Teenagers are at a stage of life where they begin to explore a deeper relationship with the people around them. This is especially so in a single parent family. Due to the differences in family structure, a teenager growing up in a single parent family may feel a little insecure about her family dynamics. As a parent, it may be difficult to change the authoritative way that you have used to parent your child when she was younger. However, a change in parenting style allows you to open up communication channels between you and your teenager. Start by allowing your teenager to voice out her opinion for the things around the house, the friends she is keeping, and the general outlook of life. By providing a channel for her to voice out, you show your child that you are treating her like an adult, respecting her views as a valued family member. When your child understands that you no longer treat her like a kid, she is likely to share her life with you instead of treating you as the “enemy”.
Besides respecting your teenager’s opinions, it is also very important to stay connected. As a teenager, she is mobile and independent enough to do a lot of things on her own. She will also hang out with her friends more often, stays in school for a longer period of time, and likely to be out of the house all weekend. In order to stay connected, strive to be a friend to her. Stay in touch via Whatsapp messages instead of phone calls, as teenagers do find it embarrassing to have their mother or father calling them all the time. Make use of social media by adding her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can get to know her friends too. Importantly, allow her to know that her parent is a hip parent who can keep in touch using social media instead of calling her every day to check on her. With such methods, your teenager will not resent your constant “presence” in her life, reducing any quarrels that you may have with her.
It is tough as a single parent to be always available because you got to juggle work, household chores, parenting and your social life. Remember to put your priorities where it matters most. Your teenager is going through a phase of life where she is feeling insecure due to the changes in her body. Her hormones are raging and she is very self-conscious. Be available to talk and listen to her no matter how busy you may be. If she indicates that she needs to talk, put aside whatever you are doing at the moment and listen to her. When your teenager sees your willingness to put aside your work or household chores to listen to her, she will know that you deeply care about what she is going through. Such positive actions reinforce the knowledge that you will be there for her, no matter what happens. When you do this all the time, your teenager will keep you as her first lifeline whenever she faces any issues outside the home. This helps you to keep your teenager close to you and at the same time, earn her trust that she can always depend on you.
Take note of abnormal behaviours
Despite your busy schedule as a single parent, take note of any abnormal behaviour that your teenager is exhibiting. Such behaviours may indicate some issues that she is facing, but is not willing to talk about it yet. Let her know that you are there to listen, should she wish to talk. However, do not question her, or force her to say what is bugging her, because you will end up with a tantrum and her bedroom door slamming shut in your face. Just let her know that you notice that something is amiss, and that you are there if she wishes to talk about it. If you have consistently done point number 3, chances are she will open up to you about her problem sooner or later. When she does, remember to stay available and listen to her, offering her solid, adult advice for her problem.
Sex, Drink and Smoke
These 3 vices are probably the worst nightmare for any parent. As single parent, it can be awkward to talk about sex if you are a dad and you are parenting a teenage daughter. However, it is important to educate your teenager about sex. Be open about the topic, and speak of it in a scientific manner if it will help you to overcome some of the awkwardness. If you find it too hard, get a close female relative to speak to your daughter about it.
Smoking is harmful to the body and it should be discouraged. However, do not command your teenager not to do it, because she will do it to spite you. What you can do is to educate her on the harmfulness of smoking, and let her decide for herself, what they should do with the knowledge.
Drinking is also harmful to the body, but knowing how to hold her liquor will help your teenage daughter to avoid certain dangerous situations when she is out with her friends. Teach your daughter to drink, but educate her on the harmfulness of excessive drinking. When she knows the difference between social drinking and excessive drinking, she will be better equipped to deal with peer pressure at drinking parties.
Be ready to read their mind
Teenagers tend to give ample attention to their whims, especially if it is something that most of their peers are doing. If your teenager comes home and treats you extra nice, be prepared to know that she is up to something. Usually, the motive of buddying up is the prequel to a request that she knows you will say “no” to. When you face such a situation, do not let the game up and ask her what she wants. Instead, let her do whatever she intends to do, and when she pops the question, stick to your house rules and say “no” if the request violates the rules. Do not give in even if she starts the door slamming game. If you start bending the rules when she throws a tantrum, she will know that she can get an upper hand whenever you say “no”.