Just another sweet baby, suddenly a pretty sour teenager. Between tantrums and lethargy, between rebellion and depression, between the urge to conquer the world and the need to settle down: Growing up is hard. And living under one roof with pubescents, all the more so. But what is completely normal, what is alarming? How do you properly talk about sex? And when are children too old to raise them?
How do parents react to mood swings?
“Just like adults, teenagers sometimes have bad moods,” says Ulrich Hoffmann from Hamburg, who as an author is mainly concerned with teenagers. It is best to then suspend the conversation and continue it later. The graduate psychologist Elisabeth Raffauf from Cologne advises: “Don’t be personally offended”. This is the most important and most difficult thing at the same time: to realize that the bad mood has nothing to do with the parents.
Are teenagers too old to punish them?
“I don’t think much of punishment, but a lot of consequences,” says Ulrich Hoffmann. Penalties are often only demonstrated by those who have the longer hand. But when teenagers take the wrong tone, they have to show: “We can talk about anything, but not like that.
How do parents promote the independence of their children?
Young people want to try everything – and they want to do it alone. How much trust should you give them? The experts find: a lot. “Trust is the basis for developing self-confidence,” says Raffauf. That’s why the motto is: let yourself do as much as possible and be available as a back-up. In this way, trust can grow step by step – even in one’s own abilities.
Where and how do you still draw boundaries?
“The education of teenagers no longer works with the if-then lever,” says Raffauf. But education is also about defending one’s position – and risking making oneself unpopular with it. “Strict is important as soon as it becomes dangerous,” says the educational consultant.
In general, it helps to provide a framework instead of constantly making individual decisions, says Hoffmann: “If it’s clear that people don’t spend the night away from home on school days, that saves them a lot of discussion.
Which topics are taboo for parents?
“Children have the same right to privacy as parents,” says Hoffmann. This means: no reading chats, no diaries – except in dangerous situations such as suicide or drug addiction. Instead, he recommends asking many questions and really listening to the answers: How was your day, what have you experienced, what interests you in life?
How and when do you talk about sex?
“Much earlier than the children want,” says Hoffmann. Young people would only voluntarily ask questions in great need. That’s why parents should also talk about their own experiences with flirting, love and sex.
Inga Fielenbach agrees with this. She is an educationalist and sex pedagogue at pro familia in Marburg and says: “Sexual education should not be a one-off event, but a process”. Fielenbach experiences that teenagers often no longer want their parents to talk to them about intimate things. Therefore, it makes sense to talk to the children at an early stage.
How do parents distinguish serious problems from normal problems?
Bad mood, seclusion, outbursts of defiance: all this is part of puberty. But how can parents tell if there is more to it? “Parents are often blind at work,” explains Raffauf. If you are unsure, you should talk to other parents – or ask at an educational counselling centre.
Fielenbach advises parents to question their own estimate and not to be content with rash explanations. “To shift bad tendency on puberty and to trivialize thereby, can prevent the view of the situation.
Authority person or best buddy: What should parents be?
- Letting mutual respect grow is often a balancing act. Family is not a democracy, says Hoffmann.
- Parents should listen to arguments and explain their own points of view – but in the end they decide.
- Nevertheless: in order to prevent disrespect, it is important to treat children respectfully, psychologist Raffauf says. “But we should forget about the buddy,” she says. Because with all due respect: the best friends for teenagers are not parents, but teenagers.