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An open letter to parents who love their teenage children

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By Kumari Grero 

I hope you will take a little time off your busy schedule to read this letter. Your children are within the ages of 13 years to 17 years. This is a very crucial age as they are between childhood and adulthood. Therefore in other words you can say that they are in a lost world. As such, this is the time they may need you most.

Sometimes you might think that now they are big (as they maybe even taller than you) and thus that you should not hug them and see to their needs. But this is not true. Your child maybe influenced a lot at this age by their friends who will from now on play a major role in their lives. If they are associating with good friends you are lucky. But if they have fallen into a bad clique of friends then you have to beware. 

From time to time check where your child is, what time your child is coming home. Check their rooms and bags. They may have unwanted stuff which might make them go astray. Check whether their behaviour has become different. Are they associating with different friends than before? See if they want to isolate themselves and want to be away from you. Sometimes they do need space, ‘alone time’ but this should not be all the time. 

Do not be scared to say ‘no’ to your child. Some parents I know do not say no to their kids thinking that they might lose their love. Do not worry. They will not stop loving you. It is more foolish of us parents to be silent and allow them to go on the wrong path. It is a common thing that children always argue against the advice you give them. But remember that internally they digest it and implement it in the decisions they make at a later date.

When your child is small they will hang onto your arm and listen to all you say and protest only for small things. But as they grow older they want to make their own decisions and want you to listen to them. The day your child can wear your shoes, that is the day from which you have to start becoming a ‘friend’ to them more than a parent. 

Please do not compare your child to another child. Or even to their own brother or sister. Each child is special with their own strengths and weaknesses. Always motivate your child. Even a small word of encouragement will go a long way in your child’s small mind.

Have you given your child a mobile phone or a tablet? This means that you, have given a weapon to destroy your child’s life. When a boy and a girl of this age have a special friendship, they start to SMS one another. Those days when you were young and if the boy and girl have an argument and break up that’s it. After a few weeks they forget about it. But now, due to the SMSing they go on looking at the bad SMS over and over again and suffer over it as it’s there in black and white forever. A fight between two people can develop due to one inappropriate SMS. Do you know that Sri Lanka reached the top of the list in the number of persons committing suicide last year?

You brought your beautiful child into this world to love, cherish and protect. Sometimes along the way you may have lost your sense of priority and have got caught in the art race of a fast moving life. When I say fast moving life, I mean that you are too busy working and not having time for your child.

Do you know what your child values the most? It is your love and time. They don’t much care about the material things you give them if you give them the quality time with you, listen to them; listen to what they have done during the day; if it is a daughter, for her to tell you if a boy had looked at her and if it is a son, if a girl had shown an interest in him and how to handle such a situation.

Do you really do any of that?

At the end of the day you come home, you are so tired, you just want to have a shower, eat and go to sleep or watch the evening news or read the newspaper. You might be irritated with your child if he or she comes to speak with you. Do you know most of the girls get friendly with boys most of the time because their fathers don’t have time for them? They find a father figure in another male. This can be very dangerous. Similarly boys find a girl who will listen to them if their parents are not there to listen.

Remember, you have your child only for the next one to four years. That is up to about 18 years of age only. Before you know it, they will leave you and go away most probably abroad to do higher studies. From those who go abroad majority stay on. Therefore enjoy these last few years with them to the maximum.

One day when you grow older and when you have time on your hands you might ask them to come and sit with you and talk with you. But that day they might tell you, “Ammi, Thathi. I am busy, I have work to do” and walk away. You will then realise that you have taken for granted the opportunities you had.

Love your child now. Give your time. Not later. Do not have any regrets. Pay attention to what the school and society in general advises you. As mentioned before also, do not give them technological devices as most of them get addicted to them and neglect their studies. They should have time for their studies and for you. Get them involved in the household chores too. Teach them the values in life. Teach them right from wrong, and never to be selfish; to share with one another. Don’t allow them to become thoughtless and selfish adults. Teach them to be independent. And also accountable and responsible for the things they do. It is your responsibility to put forth a decent law-abiding human being into society one day.

Have a good family life. If you brought your child into this world, it is your duty to see that both mother and father are there for them until they become adults. Whatever family disputes you may have with your spouse, remember why you both got together in the first place and decided to have a child. You have a great duty towards your child. They are not items which you handover to someone else. They are yours. And yours alone. Keep them with you as long as possible. As I told you earlier, before you know it, they will be gone.

With blessings to you all. The writer is the Coordinating Principal, Lyceum International School

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