An­gel to devil

When your sweet child turns into a re­bel­lious teen, what do you do?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING - By AR­MIN BROTT

OUR adorable lit­tle girl has turned into a dif­fi­cult, re­bel­lious teenager. She’s only 14, but she al­ready in­sists on wear­ing make-up, and screams things like, “I hate you!” and “It’s my life so you can’t tell me what to do.” Help! And peo­ple say the ter­ri­ble twos are bad? Ha! It won’t come as much com­fort right now, but just about ev­ery par­ent of a teen has watched help­lessly as their sweet baby mor­phed into some­thing not nearly as sweet.

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and sum­mon up as much pa­tience as you can — you’ll need about four years’ worth.

Here’s what’s hap­pen­ing. As your daugh­ter ma­tures from child into adult, she’s go­ing through a lot of changes. Those fa­mous rag­ing hor­mones are caus­ing mood swings, an­gry out­bursts (mostly di­rected at you), as well as those even-more­fa­mous feel­ings of be­ing mis­un­der­stood. In or­der to as­sert her own iden­tity and in­de­pen­dence from you, she has to treat you like her worst en­emy, yelling that you don’t un­der­stand her, don’t want her to be happy, and in­sist­ing that she’s old enough to make her own de­ci­sions. Un­for­tu­nately, her friends, the me­dia, and other ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences are sup­port­ing her in this.

The only thing you can do is keep the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines open. Tell your daugh­ter that no mat­ter what she does, you’ll al­ways be there for her. No mat­ter how ugly things get, try to keep your cool, hug her of­ten, and tell her you love her even more of­ten. She may not re­spond im­me­di­ately (or she may re­spond by shov­ing you away), but she’ll al­ways re­mem­ber that you never gave up on her.

Teenagers of­ten rebel be­cause they feel their par­ents are clip­ping their wings by im­pos­ing too many don’ts. So this may be a good time to re­vise your old rules and give your daugh­ter a bit more free­dom. But there’s a cost: if she wants that free­dom, she’ll have to go along with some ba­sic rules. For ex­am­ple:

> Health and safety is­sues (drink­ing, smok­ing, do­ing drugs) are non­nego­tiable. Make a list of things you con­sider off-lim­its and stick with it.

> She’ll need to main­tain good grades, keep up on her house­hold chores, and be re­spect­ful and po­lite to­ward fam­ily mem­bers. That means no scream­ing, swear­ing, or door-slam­ming in the house.

> No tat­toos or body pierc­ings un­til she’s 18 (but don’t be too harsh on Goth makeup, pur­ple hair, or an ex­tra ear­ring or two – things that don’t do any last­ing dam­age are hardly worth fight­ing over).

If she can fol­low those rules, you’ll al­low her to:

> Stay out a bit later on week­ends, as long as you know where she is and with whom. If her cur­rent cur­few is 10pm, con­sider ex­tend­ing it to 11pm. This shows her you trust her enough to give her some more free­dom.

> Se­lect her own clothes (un­less she goes com­pletely over­board on the cleav­age). Giv­ing her this free­dom will go a long way.

> Choose her own friends. As long as she’s not spend­ing time with known delin­quents or kids you know for sure are a bad in­flu­ence (drugs, al­co­hol), don’t crit­i­cise her peer group or tell her what losers they are.

Al­though the above con­ces­sions may not be easy for you to live up to, you’re lay­ing foun­da­tion for a trust­ing and open re­la­tion­ship that will, hope­fully, help smooth out some of the bumps on the path from “ter­ri­ble” teenage­hood into peace­ful adult­hood. – The Orange County Reg­is­ter / McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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