When I was a high school student, my mother was a student parent at Seneca College. At the time, she was studying to become an Early Childhood Educator, learning about child development, while raising me and my younger brother. I remembered one course she took in Greek mythology—I still have the thick, soft books by my bedside, waiting to be opened and enjoyed again.
To be perfectly honest, communication back then was a bit of a challenge. I don’t think we necessarily interacted well with each other. I think most student parents want to but don’t have the time, energy or patience at the end of a long day to spend quality time with their children.
Here are my top three tips that would be helpful for student parents raising a teen:
1) Understanding the Other
- Take some time to learn and understand each other. Try to learn about your child’s interests: Do they prefer to read or socialize with friends? Do they like to be out in nature or do they like to be at home under the covers?
- Once you’ve learned about their interests, try to find ways the two of you can do things together: Do you both like to go hiking? Enjoy listening to music? What about art? There are many ways to do things with your child—from going on a mini field trip to singing at karaoke.
2) Communicating with Each Other
- Depending on their age, they may or may not wish to openly communicate with you. Try to respect their space but be open and available to listen to them when they ask you for advice.
- Try to manage your stress and try not to deflect your negative feelings onto your child. I took a class once on how to free myself from self-consciousness and learned a useful tip: focus on the area between your upper lip and nostrils, feeling and examining the cold air coming in, the warm air going out as you exhale.
3) Accepting and Guiding each other
- You’ve raised and nurtured your child, but you need to let them go after a certain time. Teach them what you think is important, but also give them room to explore who they are. Sometimes the right path is only found after a bit of wandering, and that’s perfectly fine. What is “normal” is based on our understandings of “averages” and will differ from person to person. Guide your child and accept them no matter who they are.
- Try to remember that loving someone doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say, act, or do. Loving someone is the feeling of unconditional warmth, and often implies sacrifices or compromises.
Be sure to keep an eye out for future FCO events, and stay tuned for our 4-week series of Mindful Parenting discussion groups to learn key skills such as: listening with full attention, building compassion and acceptance, and embracing mistakes as opportunities. Thanks for reading!