It’s been ages since I sat down to pen my thoughts. Here I am collating my experiences from the perspective of a compassionate mother who treads along the troughs and crests with the gifted task of raising two wonderful sons. As I glimpse along the road travelled- less or more; no matter where I am, it’s evident that I’m always reluctantly standing at crossroads contemplating the way forward. All knowledge and wisdom gained over the decades still couldn’t guide me enough to make the right choice when I do not see a signpost. Hence, I believe that it is very conscientious about sharing and guiding on parenting skills I acquired while raising my kids, to be passed on to anyone seeking their way out of the maze, viz. Raising young adults.
My perspective of an educator
“True Guidance” can be a small lamp in a tunnel…! It does not show everything at once, but it gives enough light for the next step to be safe and sure.
An educator to me is anyone who could facilitate and help navigate others, be it young or old, by positioning appropriate signposts at crossroads as and when the need arises. A compassionate educator is ready to share their knowledge and wisdom, which they gained through self-reflection during their journey, and render it to others voluntarily or when sought from them. Every human being is an educator.
My professional career experience with high schoolers, specifically the high school boys, has given me insights to be proactive at home. However, everyone has their own pitfalls, and we do learn from our mistakes.
Listening to parents’ plights at PTA’s and observing group behaviors of teen students with their peers in a school environment, I understand that the foremost arduous task is to raise awareness among parents about the emotional, physical, mental, and social wellbeing of their vulnerable juveniles. Most often, we adults tend to overlook things that make a young person feel happy and fulfilled; instead, we focus solely on burdening them with our unaccomplished ambitions or problems and look for results rather than the process.
Being aware of the situation, understanding the issues at stake, accepting their limitations, and convincing oneself about his/ her expectations as a parent are the key steps that can elicit one towards better parenting. If you are a parent in the same boat who is also fighting the tide, then, definitely, the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through the years during my journey can guide you to navigate together with your young adult.
This blog runs in two parts:
The first half is to raise awareness about what to expect and accept as adolescents from a parent perspective and how to avoid some common mistakes that we overdo out of parental instincts. It also has links for additional reads from the web where relevant.
The second part gives you some suggestions and steps that could be taken into consideration for building a better relationship with your teens as we support them through a graceful transition into adulthood. I’ve also included the general broad perspective categorization of the teens based on their attitudes and behaviors from an academician point of view for your reference.
Here are a few important points for parents to assimilate and remember at all times to strike a balance in dealing with their teens’ challenges on a day-to-day basis.
What to accept?
- Every teen boy thinks, acts, and processes information differently from their female counterparts.
- Every teenager has his own gifts, strengths, and struggles. Comparison is futile.
- They also have challenges in spite of most of their needs met by you as a parent, and listed below are the major five:
1. Trouble with multitasking – juggling between academics, ECA’s, sports, and social life, all of these while going through physical puberty changes is indeed a real challenge. They are naturally gifted with kinesthetic, spatial multitasking capabilities, but usually struggle with time management abilities.
2. The parent crutch – As a super organized parent on top of perfection, most parents do overshadow their kids. As you force them to develop organizational capabilities by indulging in their affairs unintentionally, boys may be deprived of the chance to develop their own skills and motivation.
3. The insinuating technology – it’s a challenging distraction for teens. Even a “ding” from their personal electronic gadgets becomes the greatest distractor making it difficult for them to focus or prioritize tasks and carries them far too away from the routine or boring tasks easily.
4. Sleep deprivation – their growth spurt demands plenty of sleep and rest. Their circadian clock actually gears up the brain late at night, and this natural growth process works against them. Subtly guiding them to maintain good sleeping habits is a challenge on its own.
5. Fear of choices – crippling dilemmas of today and the fear of unwise choices and failures actually prevent them from pursuing their own choices and interests. Decisions made in later years are wiser, so allow them to restore their self-confidence and belief in their abilities to succeed.
What to avoid?
- Competitive parenting – Under the disguise of being constructive, comparing two teens or siblings can within a moment shift into a competition between individuals, making you an anxious parent who is venting it out on your lovely teenager. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201903/how-resist-competitive-parentin
- Helicopter parenting – Avoid micromanaging their lives inadvertently. Allow them to be independent. They need to develop organizational skills to become successful which is not possible until they have the freedom to try or fail.
- Bribery, Humiliation, and Negotiation – these tactics are detrimental and ineffective as these are artificial reinforcements that depend on outside stimulus. These parenting techniques create non-resilient individuals rather than kids with personal motivation. These parenting styles build up frustration in kids when they can’t live up to expectations or face failure. https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/bribing-kids-vs-rewarding-kids-for-good-behavior-whats-the-difference/
- Surplus supplies – Expensive and surplus supplies can at times overwhelm them with responsibilities or can be at a disadvantage. Do not deprive them of essential tools, but also have a focus on utilitarian gadgets and supplies that can be used to their fullest potential rather than expensive ones. For example, when a planner is sufficient to organize, it’s better to avoid buying a personal digital assistant.
- Over-scheduling – emotional and physical wellbeing is vital in order to develop into a complete individual. Lack of space and time will deprive the processing, recuperating, and adjusting stages in their growth patterns. Allow them to bite only what they could chew. Playtime, downtime, and family time are essential and equally as important as academic and activity time. A balance between all these components is more enjoyable and rewarding for their emotional wellbeing. Also, see below a short article on habits of happy families. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/habits-of-healthy-families_n_5751d497e4b0c3752dcd8f97
- Focusing on Grades – study habits are more sustainable than just focusing on their grade achievements. A structured break in study hours, freedom to do what they like (maybe listening to music as they work) during the study, elimination of multitasking, encouraging to filter outside activities during study hours, concentrating on interests that are meaningful to him or opens new opportunities and ventures, proper scheduling of work and play are some ideas that will help to achieve a win-win situation for both parent and child. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychology-yesterday/202011/why-are-we-told-good-grades-lead-success-in-life
- Anxiety – being anxious and thereby inducing anxiety is a typical parental attitude that does more harm than good. Practice strategies (like visualizing the situation, deep breaths, taking a time off, etc.) to reduce stress and assist them to follow as well. It’s better to allow the situation to sit for a while before reacting impulsively and try to show compassionate emotional support instead. Trusting your kid and believing in his instincts when confronting or challenging them can also alleviate your anxiety. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/7-pitfalls-in-teen-parent-relationships/2018/04/23/d729fdc2-3c22-11e8-a7d1-e4efec6389f0_story.html
- Household transitions – A household transition is unique to each family and is also circumstantial (like chronic sickness, separation, moving, custody, societal influence, financial distress, etc.). Try to keep these minimal as these scenarios create emotionally disabling stress in their life due to which they become distracted, withdrawn, preoccupied, or lethargic. Recognize and address the issues together as a family and work out solutions, engaging them in the new decisions and arrangements.
- Not all at once!!! – Long term changes take time. So, schedule and focus one attitude at a time. Revisit if improvements are needed. It is absolutely fine to outsource to another trusted person if your personal dynamics doesn’t work towards solutions while you try to implement the strategies with your child. A system that makes incremental changes in habits or singular tasks one at a time can lead to personal success.
References and image sources online:
About the author:
Name: Anisa Abdul Gafoor.
Current residence: Doha, Qatar.
Profession: International Educator (Freelance)
Institutions engaged: American School of Doha; Doha College and British Council Qatar.
As I turn back to glimpse the path from humble beginnings through the five decades of my hike uphill, I am overwhelmed with utmost satisfaction and gratitude for every grace God has gifted me.
What I feel underneath those layers of rejuvenating skin and expanding soul are the nostalgic experiences of my roles as a bubbling teenager, an aspirational teacher, an innovative multitasker, a naive wife, a chores juggler, a conjured colleague, an illusioned lady of the house, an ambitious parent, a feminist rebelling patriarchy, an anxious mommy in the empty nest and many more.
All roles have sculpted me into a graceful collage of moods, emotions, disappointments, pain, intellect, empathy, esteem, and knowledge, thereby evolving myself into a compassionate mother prepared to give back to the community all the love and wisdom gained over the years.
My current professional role as an educator revolves around facilitating high schoolers in academics and life skills. My other work area includes proctoring and administering standardized exams for various exam boards and guiding students regarding international university choices for undergraduate studies.
I’m passionate about flowers, nature, and travel. My hobby is painting abstract acrylic florals and mixed media works.
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