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Being in the Philippines from a different culture and time created challenges in raising our teens here in the United States. You see back home in my teenage years, we were raised with freedom and restrictions that we may have willfully and sometimes reluctantly followed without question.We grew up in a culture that recognized our parents authority and wisdom and so questioning their rules was not acceptable.
We grew up with responsibilities and chores and punishment and spanking. And to be honest, I have no resentment of the way I was raised and I am grateful for my parents rules and firmness and overlooked their faults and shortcomings because I would not be where I am and who I am today without them.
After all, they did their best to raise and educate us all 7 kids and we did have a wonderful childhood. We did not have fancy toys and gadgets but we had each other, great outdoors, rivers and lots of neighborhood friends.
But no matter the cultural background or the difference in time, these parenting basics in raising teenagers should be applicable to everyone!
Acceptance, Love and Support
There are a world of new changes in your teenagers body and psyche and it will to take time to understand these changes and recognize and accept it. As they continue to mature physically and psychologically, they will develop interests, personalities and perspectives.
They become little adults that are now capable of expressing their own selves. This is where I had a hard time transitioning as the parent who makes most of the decisions for them, to helping them arrive at the right decisions.
How do we show our acceptance, love and support?
At this point, our teenagers transform into these new beings and they are different from us and from their siblings, and so we parents must strive to recognize and respect their uniqueness. There will be disagreements and criticisms due to your different views but work on agreeing to disagree and still respect each others opinions.
Be affectionate and tell them that you love them because of all the evolving they are going through, feeling loved should be the one thing constant in their lives. Hug them and kiss them every chance you get, ask them about their day and spend time with them. I leave for work at about 10:30 pm and I try to never leave without giving them goodnight kisses even if they were already asleep.
Show daily interest in their lives and ask them about their school challenges and their friendships as well. Knowing their friends and accommodating to them will make your teens feel that their outside of the home relationships matter to you too.
Support their interests and listen to their concerns. I grew up with a strong and authoritative mother and I kind of followed her style. It was hard for me to sit and listen to my children when I think I knew the consequent ending of what they decided to do, hence my teenagers ( Tyge and Tyreen) oftentimes accused me of never listening to them. When I strive to listen to their perspective, I am amazed at what good points they have and so now I am a work in progress in this aspect.
Support their interests like sports and music and other extracurricular activities as much as you can, to the financial limits you can afford because these activities can help them build self esteem, they learn to manage time, prioritize and set goals that will help them become efficient and better functioning adults.
As parents, our task is to help them develop their own identity, emotional stability and self confidence before they go out into the adult world.
It is a fact that children that come from supportive and loving environment are more likely to have better school performance, develop successful future relationships and are more self reliant.
Guidance, Rules and Limits
The teenage years is the doorstep to adulthood. This is the stage when your child develop independence and maturity that will prepare them in facing future responsibilities.
Parental guidance is of utmost importance as your teens face new challenges and confusing situations and issues. Guide them to make smart choices about their health like avoiding alcohol and smoking, and getting enough sleep and dealing with peer pressure.
Whenever Tyge goes out with his friends, I always try to remind him to make smart choices, choices that will keep him safe and choices that will not jeopardize his future. Hoping that he will hear my voice in the back of his mind when the is presented with challenging situations.
Your teens need guidance about choices of profession and going to college or decisions about doing part time or full time work or travelling or even moving out after high school.
In our home, we stressed the importance of education and instilled into our children’s minds as early as 6th grade to start considering what they want to do after high school and what profession they want to study for, if they choose to go to college. We made them consider the kind of adult life they want to live and start working towards that goal.
We are thankful that Tyge who is in junior year, already knows what he wants to go to college for and Tyreen is in 8th grade and has a pretty good idea as to what she wants to be as well.
Your teens will also develop strong friendships and romantic relationships and they may not ask you for advice but discussions should be made about risky sexual relationships and teenage pregnancy. They should hear from you the implications of these issues to their well being and to their future, even if they tell you they already know. To reinforce what they learned from school and to let them know that you do care.
Keep an open mind and establish an open line of communication because they trust your opinion and your knowledgeable information will bring light to their confusing world of questions and your guidance will help them make better choices.
Rules and Limits
House rules and limits are upheld and implemented in a way that allows your teens to develop and maintain their own beliefs and opinions.
Safety rules on the other hand should be firmly implemented and should not be negotiable. Tyge is expected to be home by 12 am on the weekend nights that he is allowed to go out. As you allow them progressive independence, discuss set boundaries and insist that they should abide by it.
Implement greed upon punishments to teach them accountability and should not leave them with physical or emotional injury.
Do not sweat the small issues, pick your battles and choose the ones that does matter like school and safety. House chores can wait if they are preparing for an exam or when you see them beaten down from a day at school or if they are just having a bad day. Chores will always be there but your love and understanding will stand out to them in times that they need it most.
Be firm and be flexible at the same time, knowing when to loosen up but never letting go of the rules and values that they should follow.
Do not be too controlling and resolve your conflicting opinions and issues with respect for each other. Encourage your teens to make their own decisions and to develop problem solving skills and when they make mistakes or fail, let them have your loving support and understanding.
As parents, it is our task to arm our teenagers with a strong set of moral values and good beliefs, respect for life and rules and a strong sense of responsibility and then hope and pray that they can take on difficult decisions and situations when they are on their own.
These parenting basics is applicable to everyone across cultures and race. And yes, life can get hectic and parents can get busy working trying to provide for the family’s basic needs like food, clothing and shelter, but being a parent should a top priority as well.
Because when we decided to bring these kids into the world, our responsibilities does not stop in providing them the basic needs, it goes way beyond to raising responsible adults that can take on life and its challenges and become good citizens in our community. All we need to do is spend the extra time and effort after an exhausting day at work or in the middle of our own personal struggles and financial woes.
These parenting basics will require time and patience, but it can make a world of difference in your teenagers adult life!
What do you think?