From the day your baby is born you worry about their wellbeing—have they eaten enough, are they healthy, will they develop normally? As your children grow and develop, your anxieties for their wellness increase with your love for them. Your concerns leap from simple concepts to major, possibly life-altering problems: are they hanging out with good kids, drinking or doing drugs, having unprotected sex? You never imagined when you held that beautiful newborn baby in your arms that these were problems you would have to ponder. Parenting teens can be challenging and frightening at times, but there is help out there.
Teenage girls suffer from many stressors during adolescence. Problems stemming from self-image issues, anorexia, depression, self-mutilation, and more, can blot out the joy in their lives. Depression is oftentimes, the underlying issue for adolescent girl’s destructive behavior—it is the number one factor in instances of self-harm, suicide, underage drinking, drug use, and rage. Depression affects teens differently than adults. Close to eighty percent of depressed teens act out in anger, whereas, most depressed adults are deeply saddened, not angry. Teens tend to stay close to some friends when depressed, while adults pull back from most social interactions when morose feelings arise. Teens who are suffering from depression usually isolate themselves more than before, they tend to drop out of activities they used to enjoy, and often feel extremely fatigued and hopeless; this feeling of hopelessness can lead to high-risk behaviors, such as unsafe sex and drug use. Noticing the warning signs of depression can make an enormous difference in the outcome for your teen. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent devastating events from occurring.
Parenting teen boys can be equally challenging. Boys are just as intelligent as girls, in general, but they do not understand oral commands as well. When speaking to your son, if you want him to really hear you, touch him as you speak; a gentle squeeze of the hand will trigger his sense of touch, alerting him to listen. Do not waste your time lecturing teenage boys—long-winded speeches are usually lost on them and are not productive. Instead, use small words and as few as possible, to get your point across. Have him repeat back the important instructions to ensure his understanding. Boys do not fully develop their frontal lobe until about age eighteen. This essential brain function is what makes them understand consequences, sense fear, and control their impulses. With their delayed frontal lobe development, teenage boys should be monitored constantly. This is not an issue of trust—it is about their physiological engineering.
Parenting teens can be frustrating and scary, but if you keep communication open, watch for unusual behavior, and love them through whatever trials may come, you can both end up stronger as they enter adulthood.