A Silent Battle
We live in a world, where only change is constant. Seasons, fads, interests, and people – they all change. That’s why it’s no surprise that generational gaps exist today. What are generational gaps? Well by definition, generational gaps are “differences of outlook or opinion between people of different generations.” Why am I bringing this up? Because being aware of the existence of this barrier in our lives is the key to improving parent-teen relationships. Specifically, our personal parent-teen relationships.
Its not an uncommon fact that most parents and teens don’t always see eye-to-eye. I’m not saying we don’t have good days, cause we do. But, usually there is an on-going silent battle. The main reason being the lack of conversation between generations. Due to this both parent and teen often feel disconnected with one another.
This means that slowly in time, our silent battles become outspoken, ravenous, monstrosities. Causing what used to be small moments of disconnection to turn into actual barriers. The acknowledgement of this barrier by both parties is the first step towards creating a life-long connection with your loved one.
Behind the Scenes of Today’s Parent-Teen
Every parent wishes the best for their child. Just like every child wishes for their parents approval. Which is one of the reasons why I find conflict occurs. The main reason being that the ideal version of success that parents have aren’t always the same version that their kids have.
For example, nowadays, Millenials and Gen Z kids tend to pursue entrepreneurship through improving their crafts, so that they may one day build their own empires. That’s why we have so many kids becoming youtubers or souncloud rappers. Everyone is choosing to focus on their strengths and finding ways to make a profit out of it. Because, today, we would much rather struggle now learning about something we love, for a future that will not only cause us stability but also happiness.
Whereas our parents grew up during a time where your number 1 priority was school and having a successful career in an “acceptable” field. So, most of them worked towards becoming doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, etc. Basically, anything that was considered a stable and respectable job according to the standard of their time. Which is why parents have the same mentality today and are passing it unto their kids.
The moral of our ongoing story, is that priorities change. Even though both parties, parent and child, believe that getting an education is extremely important. Going to school is no longer the only way of getting one. A degree no longer guarantees you a job. And sometimes the unconventional ways of building a successful future is the best guarantee that you will achieve a stable tomorrow.
Society has portrayed teenagers as unfocused, troublesome, and careless. We see this in movies and the media. Which is why, it isn’t a surprise that adults view teenagers as such. This image that has been representing teenagers is problematic. Not only for teenagers who are nothing like their stereotypes but especially for those that fit said stereotypes.
When society perceives us, teenagers, as one thing, says another, and behaves towards us differently it causes our relationships with everyone around us to become jumbled. The reason for this is because our teenage years are by far the most critical time for our personal development. That’s why when society portrays us as troublesome, say that we’re the makers of the future, but treats us as children it does nothing but build more barriers between us and the world.
We see the effect of this cycle in the long run. Teenagers who fit the stereotype feel as though no one sees the good in them or the capability for them to do something good. Which leads them to rebel or build a persona that protects themselves from being hurt – especially by those who they look up to. Not only that, but, they lose trust in their parental figures and no longer see them as a source of comfort but rather a source of pain. Once this happens, it becomes harder for parents to connect with them and break past their barriers. Which only leads to the creation of a strain within parent-teen relationships that cause them to drift further apart.
As for teenagers who don’t fit the stereotypes they suffer differently. Despite not being seen as a source of trouble, they are still seen as children. Parents become more protective and coddle them because they fear that they will be corrupted. This treatment towards the “good” teenagers causes them to feel a lack of trust from their parents which leads to two things. One, they start to hide things from their parents out of fear of being reprimanded. Two, it causes them to slowly resent their parents for not allowing them to experience things freely. In either case, it causes parent-teen relationships to drift because in whichever case there is a lack of both trust and communication. Both of which are important in any relationship.
A Brighter Parent-Teen Future
If there is one thing that I’ve learned from my own relationship with my parents its that trust and communication is the key to a brighter parent-teen relationship. This as we know, is easier said than done. Which is why the first step is for both sides to acknowledge the intention and sincerity of the other side. Like I stated earlier, every parent wishes the best for their child and every child seeks their parents approval.
EVERY parent wishes the best for their child and EVERY child seeks their parents approval.
The second step would be open communication. This is extremely important because with this comes the building of trust. Teenage years are some of the most confusing time of our lives. If not the most confusing time of our lives. This is because during this time, teenagers develop their own identities, ideas, values, and beliefs. Which means that we are constantly growing and changing. That’s why feeling like we can talk to our parents without fear of being reprimanded or put down is so very important. Because, then we are able to seek comfort and guidance from the right sources – aka you, the parents – rather than finding different means that may not be what’s right for us.
Lastly, be patient and kind- with yourselves and with each other. As parents, I’m sure it can be hard for you to see your children make mistakes of their own without seeing it as a negative portrayal of your parenting. Know that this is not true. You have to acknowledge that we too are human. We make mistakes and have lapse of judgement from time to time. This does not mean that you are a bad parent or that you have failed us. Instead it is a sign that we are growing. That we are learning.
As for my fellow teens, learn to put yourselves in the shoes of your parents. Learn to see things from their point of view as well. And just like you wish for your parent(s) to listen to you and to let you feel heard, make sure you extend the same courtesy to them as well. Because at the end of the day, they’re your parents and they care for you. But, just as you find it difficult to approach them sometimes, they feel the same as well. So, do your part and meet them in the middle.
A brighter parent-teen relationship takes time and effort. All that is needed is for you to start working towards one. Everyone wants a good relationship with their parent and child. It isn’t an easy journey but it is a possible reality.
A message from teen to parents
Not too long ago, you were in our shoes. You were the one that the world looked at to be the key to the future but was treated like a child. We know that being a parent isn’t easy. But, please acknowledge that being a teen today isn’t an easy task either. We might not have the same struggles as you did as a teenager but that does not mean we don’t have our own set of struggles.
We ask that you talk to us the way you expect us to behave. Because, you can’t expect us to mature if you are constantly refusing to see us grow and allowing us to mature. Also, please understand that the road to maturity and growth isn’t straight and narrow. There will be ups and downs. So, please try and be patient with us.
On the occasion we mess up please don’t judge us, or shun us. I promise you, we feel bad enough ourselves. I promise you, that no one is harsher on us than ourselves. Which is why we don’t need you to make us feel worse by yelling at us or looking at us with eyes filled with rage and disappointment. What we do need is a friend, a mentor, a parent. To be there and help us see the error of our ways and to learn how to grow from them.
We are human and we aren’t perfect. Just like we are aware that you are human and aren’t perfect. We might not always communicate our feelings and thoughts to you but that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to let you in. We love you and we promise that we don’t mess up to spite you or upset you. Lastly, we hope you know that we are trying. Trying to be better not just for ourselves but for you as well. Because, the last thing we ever want you to feel is hurt and sadness – in us and with yourselves.
To New Beginnings
Relationships are messy and confusing to navigate. They take time and effort to build. And most of all, they are never perfect by any means. Why, because we are humans. Parent-teen relationships aren’t an exception. In fact, they’re the perfect example of the reality of relationships.
Despite all the ups and downs, what’s important is that you continue to try to build and mend your relationships with one another. Because at the end of the day neither party wants to let go. A child will always seek the comfort, love, and light that only a parent can give them. Just like parents will forever want the happiness, company, and love that they can only get from their kids.
Time might fly by. Seasons, fads, interests, and people will continue to come and go. But, a parent-teen relationship is constant. Once, that bond has been formed it is forever. It is grounding. It is energy and love at its purest form. The only the thing that does change within the relationship are the experiences that come with maintaining a relationship with parent and child.
Regardless, of the ups and downs that come with relationships, its all worth it. As a child, who is lucky enough to have that bond with my parents, I am forever grateful. It isn’t always easy but it isn’t something that I would trade for anything in the world.
Which is why I leave you with this, take the time out of your busy lives and start today. My fellow teens, I urge you to reach out to your parents because whether or not you want to admit it to yourself you still need them in your lives. Be it for emotional support or simply because you need a friend. So, stop what you’re doing, call them and start today. As for the parents, being a teenager is hard and we know that we aren’t always the easiest to deal with. But, we hope you try and be patient with us. And when you don’t understand us or our decisions, try to see it from our point of view.
We are all aware that parent-teen relationships are hard. But, they are worth it. So, start today and begin building your own parent-teen relationships. I promise, you won’t regret it and it will be the best decision you make.