Q: My teen daughter says I should just leave her alone to live her own life, but I am very concerned about where her life seems to be heading. She seems to have so little self-control. What can I do?
Keep being there for them and ride out the storm
Many young people have little willpower or self-control, mainly because they don’t see any reason for controlling themselves. They just like to let it all hang out; they don’t see why they shouldn’t. They are grappling with their myriad desires, feelings, and emotions, and it almost involuntarily spills out all over them, and all over others. Some young people can handle it better than others. And some don’t really see any reason for controlling themselves at all. They like to have fun, they like to be entertained, they like to be independent, they like to do their own thing. They want to be different, they don’t want to conform, and they don’t see what is wrong with being a little rebellious, being a little ornery.
You’re just going to have to help them along the path. You’re going to have to show them the way, guide them, point them in the right direction, keep steering them back on the right track. Keep doing your part, and eventually they’ll come around and even start to see the wisdom in the things you say, in the advice and counsel you give. You just have to ride out the storm and keep being there to help them through this period when they sometimes seem more like an ugly caterpillar than the beautiful butterfly they are becoming.
Your daughter is a pretty typical teen. She loves to have fun and play around. She doesn’t like hard work just yet, but what teen does? The teens who are mature and serious about life are rare. Most are inclined to be closer to the opposite end of the scale: frivolous, foolish, fun-loving, lacking in discipline, lacking self-control. Yet deep inside they do crave guidance, instruction and counsel. Their pride won’t always let them receive it so gracefully, but they do know they need it. Your daughter knows she needs to be kept on the straight and narrow, and that she just can’t control herself. She knows she gives in too easily to things she shouldn’t.
Teens have many fears. Knowing that you know they are being hit with crazy thoughts is a comfort to them, because they don’t feel so odd or isolated.
Young people may be overly-demanding or intentionally annoying just to get your attention. Try not to overreact, but instead focus on trying to get them to understand the situation and why you are not able to meet their demands at the time. Appeal to them for their much needed help and cooperation.
Thrill-seeking teens like to shock or worry their parents by their wild actions. Sometimes they feel they don’t belong, so are seeking more attention from you or their peers. Love them for who they are, and let them know they don’t need dramatic extremes to get your attention.
Excerpted from "Parenteening" by Derek and Michelle Brookes; © Aurora Productions.