Thriving Together: Parenting and Family Counselling.

Parenting is one of life’s toughest jobs. It’s a mix of love and exhaustion, joy and frustration. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming and it’s always ok to ask for help. Just like we take our cars to a mechanic, parenting can benefit from guidance too.

Parenting counseling is like having a coach for raising children. It’s a safe place to talk about the challenges you face and get useful advice. It’s a way to become a better parent and make family life happier for every family member.

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and it can make your parenting journey smoother and more enjoyable.

You could benefit from my expertise and experience of working with the NSPCC with young children, Teenagers, Teachers and Families. I can help you communicate boundaries and teach you strategies and tools to bring up happy, balanced children.

A child is being guided by his mother.
Parenting teenagers presents a unique set of challenges. As parents, it’s sometimes difficult to know where we stand with them.

When they were newborns and babies, they relied on us for everything. Now, they want us to drop them off around the corner to avoid any potential embarrassment in front of their friends.

They might roll their eyes when we try to give them advice on how to handle school problems, but deep down, they appreciate it when we listen and understand what they’re going through. It’s like they’re trying to figure out who they are, and it can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for us parents too.

But amid these changing dynamics, one thing remains constant: They still need our love, support, and a listening ear. As our children grow, our relationship with them undergoes a significant transformation.

When you first became a parent, whether as a mom, dad, or grandparent, you were like a superhero to your child. They trusted you completely and thought you knew everything. You were their go-to person for answers, comfort when they were upset, and guidance through life’s challenges. Your words carried a lot of weight, and they followed your instructions without question. Your role was not just about setting rules; it was also about the strong bond of trust and love that you shared.

Whether it was choosing their school, picking their clothes, or setting their daily routines, your decisions were like the law in their world. They believed that you had their best interests at heart. This made them feel safe, secure, and dependent on you during those early years.

During this time, your relationship with your child was all about authority, trust, and love, creating a loving and nurturing environment for them to grow and develop.

When your child becomes a teenager, things change a lot in your relationship. Before, they’d come to you for help and listen to your advice. But now, what matters most to them are their friends’ opinions. This shift can be a bit of a shock because you used to be their main guide in life.

Teenagers often make you feel like you’ve switched roles. You, as a parent, who once seemed like you had all the answers, suddenly feel like you don’t know much about the things that are super important to your teenager. They’re really into stuff like music, friends, dating, and fashion, and it can seem like they’re speaking a different language.

As teenagers grow, they start to figure out who they are and what they believe in. This might mean they disagree with some of the values and beliefs you’ve taught them. It can feel like they’re pushing you away, but it’s usually part of them becoming more independent and finding themselves.

Teenagers can also challenge your authority. They might question the rules you set, push the boundaries, and resist your attempts to control their lives. This doesn’t always mean they don’t respect you; it’s often a way for them to test their limits and show they’re growing up.

Handling these changes can be hard. It means being patient, understanding, and willing to change your parenting style. Your role as a parent is evolving from being the boss to being more like a guide and a source of support. You become a safe place for them when they need help navigating the ups and downs of being a teenager. It’s a time of growth and learning for both you and your teenager as you adapt to this new phase together.

The main job of parents is to help their children grow up and become independent adults. It’s like starting with a baby who relies on you for everything, and your job is to take care of them and keep them safe.

But as children get older, the goal is to let them start doing more things on their own. It’s like passing the responsibility from you to them, step by step. This can be hard for parents because they’re used to taking care of everything.

Sometimes, parents need help, like counseling, to deal with the feelings of letting go. It’s a normal part of parenting.

The ultimate goal of being a parent is to raise a child who can make their own choices, take care of themselves, and be a responsible adult. It’s like helping them learn to ride a bike – you support them until they can do it on their own. It’s all about love and guidance, with the end goal of having a confident and capable adult who can handle life’s challenges.

Despite the bravado and the constant chant of “It’s my life,” it’s essential to recognise that your teenager still requires three crucial things from you: support, understanding, and freedom.

Underneath the changing clothes, makeup, or hairstyles that might not be your cup of tea, remember that they are still the same person you’ve known since they were a child. Even though they often talk about wanting more freedom and independence, deep down, they are in the process of becoming an adult. They may act like they don’t need your help or guidance, but they secretly do.

So, what your teenager wants and needs from you is:

Support: They need to know that you’re there for them, even when they push you away. Your unwavering support, both emotionally and practically, is crucial as they navigate the challenges of growing up.

Understanding: Teenagers often go through a rollercoaster of emotions and may not always express themselves clearly. It’s essential to try and understand what they’re going through, even if it seems like they’re keeping you at arm’s length.

Freedom: While they still need guidance, they also need room to make their own decisions, even if they stumble along the way. Balancing freedom with boundaries is a delicate dance in parenting teenagers.

In summary, your teenager may act like they’re all grown up and don’t need you, but they still rely on your support, understanding, and a degree of freedom as they navigate the transition to adulthood. It’s a challenging time for both parents and teens, but providing these essentials can help them thrive during these formative years.

Teenagers struggle with their identity, and the list of things they worry about is quite extensive. Here are some of the key concerns:

What others think about them: Teens often worry about how they’re perceived by their peers and adults. They want to fit in and be accepted.

Their beliefs and values: Adolescents are in the process of forming their own beliefs and values, and this can be a source of inner conflict and uncertainty.

Appearance: Concerns about physical appearance, including body image, can be significant during the teenage years, especially with societal pressures and media influences.

Popularity: Many teens are preoccupied with their social status and want to be liked and popular among their peers.

Lack of confidence: Adolescence can bring a lack of self-confidence, as teens grapple with self-doubt and insecurity.

The future: Teens worry about what lies ahead, including career choices, college, and the responsibilities of adulthood.

Friendships: Friendships are crucial at this stage, and the fear of rejection or criticism by their peer group can be deeply hurtful and lead to feelings of uncertainty and low self-esteem.

Academic pressure: The increasing pressure to excel academically, whether from parents, schools, or self-imposed expectations, can be a major source of stress.

During these challenging times, teenagers need the support and belief of their parents or caregivers. When crises occur, your teenager needs you to believe in them and provide reassurance as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence.

Teenagers need someone to listen to them.

The most important skill a parent of a teenager needs above all others is the ability to listen. Parents should use their ears and mouth in proportion – listen twice as much as you speak and try to Understand the situation from your teenager’s point of view. This can be difficult, we automatically want them to avoid the mistakes we made growing up. If you feel stuck talk to an experienced professional.

Listening doesn’t mean you have to ‘agree’.

Listening to your teen doesn’t mean you will agree with or accept everything your teen has to say. You will still have your own viewpoint, but by listening will show that you show a willingness to try to Understand. As you Listen to your Teen, you may realise that you are never going to agree with them. But don’t stop listening. When they have finished, state briefly and unemotionally what you think they have said. Then get them to agree that you have properly understood. Then tell them that you do understand, but you still don’t agree. They won’t like it, they will probably accuse you of not listening, but at least you have done them the courtesy of listening properly and it is possible that you’ll get some credit for that.

This method of listening is adapted from ‘How to Talk so children Will Listen and Listen So children Will Talk’ by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

Listen to me and I’ll listen to you.

If your Teen seems likely to make a decision you don’t like, don’t give unsolicited advice, criticise, lecture or boss. If it’s not an important decision, then you will get credit for listening and accepting your Teen’s right to make up their own mind. This will stand you in good stead when a really important decision is under discussion. The fact that you listen to him/her will encourage them to listen to you and maybe they will be influenced by what you have to say next time.

Letting go.

When your child learned to ride a bicycle, the time came to let go of the saddle, even though you feared your child might fall off and hurt her/himself. Similarly, as the parent of a Teen, you have to learn to let go and take the risk that your teenager will make mistakes. Experience is the best teacher. We all learn from the consequences of our decisions. Without this Learning, your teenager will not become a fully functioning Independent adult.If you are struggling with this talk to an online counsellor who has experience of working with children, teens and parents talk to me. I am an experienced online therapist and family practitioner who has worked directly with young children and Teens online and face to face, so he has a wealth of understanding which parents find extremely useful in learning to understand their children and their changing relationships.

Understanding child and Teen behaviour.

Listening, so Your Teen will Talk. In a group as intimate as a family, it’s easy to think that you’ve heard it all before, that you know what your Teen’s think, or what they should think. It is vital that you actually listen to them and look like you are listening too. Don’t assume you already know

Children grow up and develop their own views. It’s a new situation now, your Teenager may regard your views as old-fashioned and outdated. If you want to have any kind of dialogue with your Teen, you have to recognise that they have their own strongly held opinions. Discussion rather than telling them they are wrong is much more effective.

While Listening to our Teens, we may notice that they have a slight cold, need a haircut or want to correct their pronunciation. Concentrate on what they are saying, forget how they look and how they’re speaking. Give your Teen the courtesy of giving them your full attention. It will also teach them how to listen in return. Pay attention to the message not the messenger.

Don’t let your feelings block your ears.

There are many Emotional ‘Triggers’ that can stop us from listening. Talking about drugs and sex is difficult and, instead of listening, Parents can easily fall into the trap of lecturing and warning. Chances are, your Teen has heard the lecture and had the warning already. What they want is Information and advice about something that concerns or worries them. When you feel angry, worried or anxious about what you are hearing, make a conscious effort to control your feelings and listen.

Pay attention.

The first step in Active Listening is to be attentive. stop whatever it is you’re doing and give your teenager with your full attention. Acknowledge what is said with a brief listening response: Yeah Oh, hmm and then wait. Don’t jump in with advice, solutions, put downs, lectures or sermons. Your non-committal response allows your Teen to continue to explore their own thoughts and feelings.

Name the Feeling.

Underlying most of the things your child says to you, there is more than likely an unexpressed feeling or worry. To enable your teenager to express the feeling or worry, give the feeling a name. An example of this is given below:

Teen: This maths project sucks.

Mother: Mmnn?

Teen: It’s boring.

Mother: You’re not in the mood for it?

Teen: No. I can’t do these equations. They’re stupid.

Mother: Sounds like you’re having problems?

Teen: Yes.. (tells mother what is giving them trouble)

This mother listened and allowed her teenager to express their anxieties. She didn’t butt in with reassurances like ‘Oh, it’ll be okay if you concentrate on it’ nor orders ‘Get on with your project now’ nor did she deny her Teen’s feelings with ‘Maths has always been your best subject’. By naming feelings, she encouraged her to talk through the worries.

If Parenting has become a battle of wits you are probably going to get nowhere, you will isolate yourself from your child and your child will be left without that one person who can look out, support and protect them. A misunderstood teenager or child can be demanding and challenging.

If you feel talking to an experienced professional and parent about your parent/child relationships, you can contact a counsellor/therapist to take a step back and look at your options.

I’m Paul Parkin – A therapist and life coach. This is why you should work with me:

Paul Parkin Online CounsellorI have vast experience of working with children, teens, teachers and parents using tried and tested child development understanding and family counselling (therapy) techniques to help them create loving peaceful relationships and I have many strategies which can help today’s modern families, including how to work the complexities of stepchildren and complex family relationships.

Online therapy is convenient. You can get help from your home or even your car if you need that kind of privacy.

What some of my recent clients have said about our work together.

I have a 16 year old daughter who had an uneasy relationship with her father and was finding it difficult to socialise. Paul helped her to understand how issues from her past were affecting her self-esteem and the way she interacted with friends and family. Paul helped her enormously and I would recommend this service to other teenagers.

Sam. UK.
April 2014.

Well, I was a skeptic until we chatted, your commonsense techniques for parenting were beyond my comprehension until now. How could I have got it so wrong! My relationship with my little horrors has been turned around in a few weeks.

Happy Mom & Family. UK.
November 2008.

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