As my children get older, I find myself wondering what their teen years will be like, in terms of our relationship. They are 12 now, so one more year until they are official teenagers. We have attended 3 unschooling conferences in the past 3 years, and I love observing the teenagers while we are there. I also love hearing about the relationships that my unschooling friends have with their teenagers. It is amazing to me to see the trust and the honesty that is present in their relationships. Before finding the unschooling path, I didn’t think this was possible! Once again, I am thrust into shifting my perspective on parenting, while learning to "grow" with the flow.
Since I was raised in a traditional way, I only had one data point to go on. I always assumed that once a person hits the teenage years, the rebellion kicks in, and it is time to have many disagreements and issues in the parent child relationship. Many parents think that they are not supposed to trust their teenagers. When teenagers are not trusted, their behavior may change because they can no longer trust that they are being honored for who they really are. Not being trusted may bring about unwanted behavior. I know that was the result in my teenage years.
After seeing the teens at the conferences, and talking to parents with teens that are unschooled, I am so happy to know that it is possible to have a relationship with teenagers that does not include the typical rebellion and the adversarial relations. How can this be? Well, the more I think about it, the more it makes perfect sense. When children are treated with respect, trust, and dignity they don't have anything to rebel against! When the parent-child relationship is built on trust, honesty and autonomy, what could there be to fight about?
I don't like the negativity that is placed upon teenagers. I hear comments such as this, "Oh, you better enjoy them now, because in a few years it will not be this easy." Or something like this, "Oh, you know how teenagers are, get used to it. They never know what they want, except they want to make your life miserable." There was a time when these comments scared me, and made me feel sad. I don't feel that way anymore. I am looking forward to my kids becoming teenagers. I look forward to them coming into their own. I look forward to them discovering more and more about themselves.
I feel sad when I see teenagers that are not being heard, or that are not taken seriously. It saddens me to think that they are labeled as lazy, or that they are judged for wearing strange clothes or having weird hairdos. My hope is that we will start honoring teenagers for who they are, and allowing their voices to be heard and taken seriously. It is a gift to them and to the world if they can be treated with dignity and respect. They are already out in the real world, so let's mentor them and talk to them as we would talk to other people that we respect. Let's show them that the world is a good place, and that they can trust that there are adults that will respect and honor them for who they are.
Mindful and respectful parenting starting from birth can pave the road for a more peaceful relationship when the teen years hit. The good news is, respectful parenting can start no matter how old your children are. Trust can be rebuilt, and peace can be an everyday occurrence in a house with teenagers. Having teenagers does not have to be a stressful time. On the contrary, it may be the beginning of one of the most rewarding, loving, honest relationships you will ever have! Teenagers have a lot of wisdom, and they have a lot to say, IF they are respected and honored for who they are.
Come and visit me on my website for more on personal growth, mindful parenting and living, and much more at www.benurtured.com.