Smells like teen spirit
Deccan Chronicle| Nishtha Kanal
Being a parent to a teenager is no bed of roses.
Idris Elba with daughter Isan
Teenage angst is a trial by fire phase of life that everyone goes through. And, one often tends to relive this phase with their own children going through a phase of growing up, developing their own personality and rebelling at the drop of the hat. However, being on the other side of the fence is not the easiest, as Luther star Idris Elba seems to have discovered. The actor admitted that his 15-year-old daughter Isan gives him a ‘hard time’. Idris claimed that he’s close to ‘Issy’ but since she’s a teenager, they tend to have a difference in opinion at times.
Life coach Chetna Mehrotra says, "Chanakya once said that children, when they reach the age of 14, should be treated as friends. When your teenage child makes mistakes, they are already aware of it. So, there’s no point admonishing them. Teenagers are quite sensitive and need guidance rather than instructions." The chasm of ‘generation gap’ and trouble dealing with increasingly independent young adults seems to be worse in Asian countries like India and China, explains life coach Khyati Birla. "In these countries, parents have a lot of expectations from their children with respect to their behaviour and performance in different aspects of life. Everything is strict, and measured or controlled. There’s hardly any space for the child to develop himself individually. The popular term for this is called helicopter parenting."
Chetna says that since these parents have once been teenagers too, and know what it’s like, it’s natural for them to want to shield their children from the effects of the age. "Parents spend so many years rearing their kids, trying to protect them, holding their hand at every step, that they don’t believe that their child is growing up and will soon ask for more personal space, with regards to decision making," she adds. "Give them enough independence and do not needle them over mundane things such as funky hair cut or sharp hair colours."
Khyati, while in agreement, says that it’s the right time for parents to let their children fall and learn, when they’re teenagers. She says, "Mistakes need to be made in a controlled environment. What happens generally is that a friction happens when the child is developing a personality of his own. They’re developing very concrete likes and dislikes and there are things they may not agree to. It could be right or wrong, but this is the age to make mistakes. If you don’t allow the child to make mistakes then, making them as an adult will have far more disastrous consequences."
She goes on to say that it’s best if parents prepare their child — and themselves — for the coming changes from the very beginning. "By the time the child is a teenager, there have already been future expectations set for them by their parents," says Khyati. "The idea that the child can’t argue back, that’s just how the parents have grown up and how they expect the child to be is not psychologically sound for the child. The child’s not going to ethically grow up to be emotionally intelligent. I always ask the parent to let go of their need to be correct in cases of clashes. The world is changing so fast now, that your child may completely be valid in their view. Give their point of view a shot."