Children grow up, parents don’t

To parents, their children will always be a kid. Unfortunately, most of us resent this fact as we grow up. Most conflict in society between children and parents can be put down to this one factor. What does it really mean?
Having a teenager at home throws this fact up in my face quite often. As the children grow up, they want to voice their opinions and, if possible, take their own decisions with support from parents, be it the choice of a subject in high school/college, the friends they keep or the choice of clothing. I have even seen parents go through their teen’s email accounts or dairies stealthily to ensure that the child is not doing anything wrong. What message are these parents sending to their kids? It’s OK to be deceitful of controlling? I don’t trust you, or you are not discerning. Would the parent tolerate such an act from anyone?

Parents talking to their son

As children grow up to be adults, their faculties are expanding and they are acquiring more knowledge and skills. But skills die away without practice and it is up to the parents to provide them the opportunity to practise these skills in a safe environment. Children benefit from being allowed to make decisions – little ones at first and then more important ones like what they want to do in college or which profession they want to take up or who they want or be their life partner. They should be encouraged to do the necessary homework that will allow them to take informed decisions. Family meetings should be scheduled regularly at least once a week to share important occurrences in each family member’s life. Your teen will not only be willing to share information about his/her life with you in this adult conversation but will also be able to accept parents as a friend / guide. Sharing your own experiences, problems and solutions makes it very natural to for your child to step into the big bad world knowing that there will be issues at every turn, but also understanding that these issues can be dealt with. It builds confidence and a certain deftness in dealing with the world at large.

Parents who behave like “know it alls” lose their children’s confidence gradually. Whenever the teens brings up a problem, sermonising only drives them back into their shell. Asking them to follow your instructions always can seem controlling. From a psychological perspective, two entities are struggling for control of the same space and this can only result in conflict. At schools, teachers who are parents themselves also fail to see the teen’s need to express their opinions and be respected for their growing intelligence. Adults who think that “they always know better” are losing connect with the youngsters of the world. To carry this attitude on when the teen has grown into an adult with a job and family Is responsible for the widening gulf between parents and adult children as also for the generational conflict that we see around us.

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