So, you’re scared of your teenager. In fact, you’re thinking of running away to avoid their exhausting emotional rollercoasters. Everything has changed since you strutted your teenage stuff in flares and sang innocently along to Abba, and you and your WhatsApp-addicted teen don’t seem to have a single thing in common. Or perhaps family life is pretty rosy now, but you’d like to bank a few tactics in case your cute kid morphs overnight into Hurricane Sandy…
If any of this sounds like you, a parenting course run regularly in Kenilworth, Cape Town could be just what you’re looking for. Parenting Teenagers has inspired a variety of South African parents seeking to improve their parenting skills and get the best out of their relationship with their teens. Here, two Capetonians tell how the course helped them…
Teens testing you? Learning to listen to them could be the key to mutual happiness | Photo: Tonya Hester
Wonita, scientific research officer, Cape Town:
‘My husband and I attended the course when our children were 15 and 11. We wanted to equip ourselves with the skills necessary for raising teenagers. We knew we’d need them to cope with the physical and emotional changes our children were going through. We loved the course as it was well-rounded. Based on biblical values and featuring both live speakers and DVDs, it covered a host of topics, from hormonal changes and modern pressures to helping your teen grow into a responsible adult.
We had coffee or tea when we arrived, listened to a talk, watched a DVD and broke up into small groups to discuss what we had just heard. Meeting parents going through similar challenges was an added bonus – there’s something very therapeutic about knowing your situation isn’t unique! This generation of children is exposed to challenging issues such as drugs, alcohol and other vices, and parents often don’t know how to help them navigate life and still come out on top. We wanted to make sure ours had the tools they’d need.
The course taught us the importance of providing our teens with a loving space where they would feel safe and accepted. This boosted their confidence levels because they knew we loved them, no matter how they behaved. We’d always believed children had to listen to their parents, but never realised we needed to listen to them, too. We began to allow them to interact with us and voice their opinions more. Learning to listen and express empathy for your teenagers’ feelings is the basis of good communication. Thanks to the course, our relationship with our children definitely improved.’
Your teen may also appreciate this parenting course! | Photo: Tonya Hester
Hélène, architect, Cape Town:
‘I joined the course when my children were 14, 11 and seven because I felt I needed to build up my parenting skills now that I had a teenager in the house. My daughter had hit teenagehood with minimum fuss and was sailing along happily, but I wanted to learn how to negotiate this new arena as the dynamics of our relationship changed.
One of the things I liked about the course was that it offered inspiration on how to deal with various situations and gave me confidence that I wasn’t being too lenient or too strict. For instance, we needed to learn how to negotiate a choice of movies, or weekend party curfews. The course helped to equip me to be a better ‘only parent’ since the loss of my husband three years earlier.
Its appeal was that it emphasised wholesome family values while still acknowledging different parenting styles. All the facilitators were experienced parents who were further along the parenting journey. They shared from personal experience and their insights were very helpful. The fact that everyone undertook confidentiality during the small group sessions created an atmosphere where one could talk candidly about one’s parenting challenges. The ‘take-home question’ helped me think about what I was learning, and gave me the opportunity to put the lessons into practice. My daughter appreciated the ‘homework’ I was getting because it gave her reassurance that I was taking the changing relationship seriously.
The hard part as a parent was learning to allow one’s teenagers more freedom, and the space to take responsibility for their own decisions. The course gave me inspiration, insight and encouragement. A parent can easily get distracted by all the ‘noise’ from a busy household and forget to focus on the long-term goal of helping teenagers grow into well-adjusted, responsible and confident young adults able to make their way in the world. It reminded me of the importance of a consistent, loving home environment, good values and healthy relationships in achieving this goal.
Parenting Teens is run intermittently by Christ Church, Kenilworth
WHO’S IT FOR? Any parent of a teenager or pre-teen (12 years old) from any part of Cape Town who would like to strengthen their relationship with their teen. No need to be a church member!
WHY DO IT? It’s a great opportunity to stop and think about some of the challenges that we face as parents. You learn to build healthy relationships with your teenager, as well as having time to work through tricky issues. It’s also good to know you’re not alone in your parental challenges!