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Sunday, 13 April 2014

My thoughts on piercings: Parenting

This post does not only apply to piercings but to many other situations we land up having to negotiate and navigate when we deal with teens emerging into adulthood. When I was in high school my mother “brushed me off” with excuses about why I couldn’t have piercings. I was quietly compliant until I was 18 years old then I began to manipulate her at her own game (which I won’t go into now).

I have come to the conclusion that we, as parents, should not make up excuses, or frustrate our children due to our own fears or inability to communicate. Boundaries are important and guidance will help develop sound reasoning powers and decision making abilities. Through this post I aim to stimulate your thoughts your boundaries, guidance and manner in which you communicate.

To allow your child freedom of expression (not just outward bodily expression but of their personal thoughts and experiences) is more important than making up excuses.  Ultimately we want our children to make intelligent decisions and possess a healthy self-esteem by the time that they reach adulthood.

How can we encourage personal expression?
·         Listening to them without judgment when they share their experiences; 
        Showing acceptance and understanding for what they are experiencing in their world;
·        remembering that our world, which we come from, is not the same as theirs;
·         Knowing that we might not agree – we should still present our case but we cannot force them to think similarly or agree with us if they honestly don’t.

The more we listen and try to understand their perspective the more they will be encouraged to speak up, share with and express themselves. (This is how our “teas” grew into something special). 

Educate them to educate themselves:
I feel it is important as a teen to be encouraged to
·         be self-reflective;
·          ask pertinent questions;
·          to do research and
·         enter into intelligent discussion with the adult about the issue concerned.  

Parents are often afraid of what their children might find on the internet. There are ways of guarding against that on computer (using apps for "parental control"). You can also think about where you give your child access to computers in the home. But it is also up to us to guide them and teach them how to do research for themselves. You can do this by asking some questions that they need to go and research or getting them think about what questions they would ask.

Support their evaluation process by listening and respectful discussion.

When you evaluate what your child wants to do, as their parent you should ask:
Does it harm them or someone else? Is it disrespectful of another person, themselves or belongings?  Is it fatal? You might have other questions that you feel are important.

It can be disconcerting, at first, when as the adult, you have probably felt in control of your child’s actions or thoughts most of the time. Teenagers herald a “letting go” process for adults. It is uncomfortable but necessary. Just as the teenager is learning to navigate her own life we are learning to let go of the control.

Keep reflecting while you drink your tea,
A warm smile,

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