That Teen Spirit


Teenagers are one mystery that even scientists and researchers grapple with! So, if you have a teen in your house and are looking for ways to bond with them, then Farzeen Ashik has a few tips on how to get it right with your teen!


I know I always go on and on about how it’s important to communicate, be it with your family or at work. But this time can I recommend that you turn down the volume a notch and just listen? Your teen is going through a challenging time in his/her life. He/she is breathing life into his personality and trying to form independent opinions and challenging norms. At this time he/she doesn’t need a preacher at home, he/she needs a sounding board. Be what he/she wants, this is his/her turn to shine not yours. Listen to what he/she has to say.


Find out what music they like to listen to, who are their favourite artists, what kind of shows do they like to watch on Netflix, why they find ‘Good Mythical Morning’ so hilarious? Ask without seeming too nosy about it and please don’t give your opinion about their likes, they aren’t asking for it!


Pencil in time to do things together with your teen. It could be a movie he/she wants to watch or a new restaurant he/she wants to try that her friends have been raving about. Or if there is nothing on the cards then pop over to Starbucks for Pumpkin Spice Latte and some chit-chat away from the distractions at home. I’ve noticed that the minute you take them out they generally can’t stop talking.


You got to learn what’s going on in their lives. The small things and the big things. Don’t ever put on the Judge’s hat, ‘coz if you do then that’s the end of it. They will never tell you anything! Remember the names of their friends, invite them home so you can understand them better. These are the people your son and daughter spend most of the day with, so it’s important you know who they are. Better yet forge an easy relationship with their friends and their parents too. It shows your child that you care enough to do that for him/her.


Don’t be in their face the whole time. They probably like to sit and stare at space while rock music is blaring in their ears, leave them be. Don’t be knocking on their doors the whole time asking what they are up to and sneaking into their room to check their phones and laptops. Trust them.


You aren’t a teen if you don’t have bad days, so be kind to them about it. Help them get through the mood swings and hold them tight without giving a speech. Sometimes they just need a hug to help them get over whatever is bothering them. Be prepared for unreasonable, irrational fears and tears. It’s all a part of growing up.


Tell them exactly what’s your dream for them. Let them know the family values. Give them absolute clarity about the things that are a taboo for the family. I’m not saying they’ll do everything right and play by the rules all the time. But at least they can’t turn around tomorrow and tell you that you didn’t tell them the facts of life.


You want a strong, independent and multi-faceted adult in your home when your teen is all grown up, don’t you? Just like they go to school to learn all the academic stuff you need to teach them routine things so they don’t end up being absolute misfits or slobs when they go to university. Teach them to tidy their own rooms, cook simple meals (teach your sons too, ladies!), manage money, pay the telephone and utility bills, handle a few bank transactions etc. You want them to be grown-up, then treat them like grown-ups!


Parents always rank above the children and so respecting them is not something that comes automatically. We are more used to giving instructions and expecting unconditional obedience. Well, ladies, that is a thing of the past. See your teens more as adults than as children and try not to molly-coddle or infantilise them. They are how you make them. Give them responsibilities and teach them to be accountable and most importantly respect choices.


I know you want to be their friend but they need you to be more than that. You have to be their friend and guide. They look to you for guidance during trying times so be sure to dole it out. Do your homework, understand the university scene, know what your child wants to achieve in life and motivate him to get there. Also, remember they are always watching. So if you want your child to be hardworking, ambitious, successful, honest and a paragon of all virtues then you are going to have to walk the talk.