If you can learn to appreciate your teenager’s environment, such as his tastes in clothes, as well as his music, it will be a good start. It is very important to avoid driving a wedge between you and your child particularly at this stage of his life. Although you may not approve of some of his friends, while you can tell him discreetly about your concerns, you have to let him make his own decisions. He will discover on his own later on, whether he has made good decisions or not. If you can do this, it will keep you much closer to him when problems arise.
Keeping relevant, means making a real effort to keep up with your teenagers’ technology, his games and his music. You should learn to play his computer games with him and get him to teach and explain things to you. He will love the fact that he can teach you things as well, and it is not always the other way round. By having this approach, you will always stay an integral part of his life, as he evolves through his teenage years. Although on many occasions it won’t feel like it at all and it won’t stop the arguments and disagreements, he will definitely respect you for trying to do this. Try to empathise with his lifestyle and the things he enjoys doing as much as possible. And be careful not to condemn and be disrespectful to his personal tastes just because you don’t happen to like them yourself.
Whatever your child is up to, positive feedback about what he is doing will always be well received by him. Even if you actually disagree with what he is doing. During this period of your child’s life he will be full of self-doubt and will be trying to find his way, so if you can find a positive slant on things, he will always respond better to that than if you are always critical of him. But it can be very difficult to do this at times. Make sure you are sincere about what you say, as children are quite perceptive and can very easily see through their parents if you aren’t. There will of course be many periods of anxiety and doubt as a teenager, so your positive and constructive comments will help keep his confidence levels as high as possible.
The bonding process with your child begins before he is born, it shouldn’t wait till he actually arrives in this world. Despite your partner experiencing your child developing and growing inside her, you can also lead a full part during these months before the birth.
As soon as you can start to see ‘the bump’ getting bigger, you can start interacting with your baby. He will be able to hear your voice, and feel you touching him through the walls of your partner’s tummy, for a few months before he is born. Your partner will also love you doing this, as at times she may feel she is doing it all alone. Even if this is not the case.
When your partner is lying down on the sofa, or the bed, take the opportunity while she is relaxed, to stroke your baby, and talk to him. You can put your ear next to him, and listen to any gurgles in your partner’s tummy. They may not actually be your baby, but it will feel good for your partner anyway. You can gently prod him and feel him move, and feel certain parts of his body. You can even guess with your partner what part of his body you are touching.
It will be a very satisfying and intimate time together for the two of you which you will both enjoy. You will also be starting to get used to the idea that there will be three of you shortly, not just the two of you. So take the opportunity to be involved right from the very start, you will be amazed.
Can your child really teach you anything as he grows up, or should it always be the other way round? When we first have children and decide to become parents, we are complete novices at it. We have no experience of handling our own baby, and make no mistake, it is completely different from dealing with other peoples children. So really we know nothing, and we are starting with a blank piece of paper!
So the moment your child is born is where you start the learning process. Even as you do the first feed, you baby will be teaching you what he likes, and the best way to feed him. This extends to bath time, and many other daily routines, and how he communicates to you the best way of playing with him.
Then as he gets a bit older, he will often be subliminally teaching you, and in fact will teach you a major life skill which will help you for the rest of your life. Your child will teach you to keep everything in life in perspective.
It doesn’t matter how stressful or tiring your day has been, when you walk into your house, and he jumps into your arms with that adoring smile and cheeky look in his eyes, you will realise that there is much more to life than just working, or chasing the money.