A: Will the relationship between parents and their child can become strange when their little so-called “angel” becomes a moody and challenging teenager?
Mother of 2 Sharon Witt says raising teenagers is quote “Like nailing jelly to a tree”. She’s just published a new book called “Teen Talk, Parent Talk” and she joins us now from our Melbourne studio.
Good morning Sharon. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Sharon Witt: Good morning Natasha, thanks for having me.
A: I’m a mother of a 3 and 5 year old, tantrums that come in place in our household. Are you telling me that they’re gonna continue?
Sharon Witt: Yeah, well it’s not much that the tantrums continuing, but certainly those hormones, those dreaded hormones have a lot to answer for. It’s too much of this time, for many of our teenagers and you know, especially their parents as well, we have to help them navigate those years and hopefully get through them as easy as possible.
A: So, Sharon, is that the reason why they become quite moody and uncontrolled primarily the hormones?
Sharon Witt: Look at the hormones have a one part to play but we’ve got to also remember our teenagers are entering high school. You know, there are a lot of things that are getting started with high school, you’ve new teachers, new subject, exams, the list goes one. Many of our teens actually are actually struggling with sleep as well. They are up riding on sleep deficit s, you know often a lot of our teens are having less than 5-6 hours sleep a knot, we’ve got cyber world, you know, our teens are spending 5-6 hours a knot, some of them in cyber world. So there are a lot of things that they are dealing with that we never did when we were growing up as teenagers.
A: Now, you work with teenagers, you’re still a teacher, and of course, you are mom, what is your key advice for dealing with these challenging years?
Sharon Witt: Yeah, look I think the key point I would like to make that is really important that you keep the lines of communication open. You know, you need to develop that relationship of trust with your teen. Make sure that you are always there to listen to them, to give them opportunities to talk about things and be an active part of their lives. It is also important, really, to make sure that they have case strategies in place that they have a mentor, someone that they can speak to, because sometimes they are not going to want to speak to their parents about things. So, whether that be, a youth leader, or a teacher, or some sort of counselor, or an older brother or a sister, or aunt or uncle, it is important we have those key people in place that they can also turn to.
A: Sharon, what’s really important about being a parent is getting that line, that fine line, right between being a parent and a friend. What advice would you give, especially with teenagers, ‘cause you do need to be a parent.
Sharon Witt: Absolutely! Yes. And you know, and often, there are many parents that want to be, you know, the friend, that we often, you know, we say they want to be the buddy-buddy-parent that parent. That’s one of the parenting styles I write about in my new book. But, it’s really important that, first and foremost, we remember that we’re the parent. And the best thing we can do, is be the parent, and set boundaries, be interested, be part of our child’s life. But be prepared to put those boundaries in place, and reinforce them when needed. Because, our kids need that, you know, they need those boundaries. They need to be loved and part of what we, when we show love, we reinforce those boundaries. Even when we don’t want to. It’s the hardest part of being a parent.
A: It’s such an interesting point, because they do behave much better when they do have boundaries. How important is that to reinforce that. Because it is tough love, long-term it does pay off.
Sharon Witt: Absolutely! It’s tough love, and you know, many of us would rather just say yes, you know. And it’s hard when your teenager nags at you, and you know. “I want to go to that party, everyone else is doing it”. You know there are millions of examples. But we really need to reinforce that we are the parent, and that we love them and to make sure that we explain everything’s behind saying “We don’t want you to do that” or you know having a conversation with them. Because, when we reinforce the boundaries, we reinforce that we really love and care about them. And ultimately, that’s what’s going to help our teenagers become resilient to get them through those teen years.
A: We’ve got your website up there if anyone wants any more information. Also, to remember, we were also once teenagers and got up to this year.
Sharon Witt: Yes, we did.
A: Sharon, thanks so much for your time this morning.
Sharon Witt: Thanks Natasha. Thank you.