A clinical psychologist has advised Ghanaian parents to break the unapproachable parenting stereotype meted out to teenagers in the African society.

The early teenage years according to international and local reports see lots of changes – physical, emotional, cognitive, and social. During this time, teenage bodies, emotions, and identities change in different ways at different times.

Speaking on JoyFM’s Home Affairs with host Edem Knight-Tay, Mr. Nortey Dua revealed that the lives of teenagers can be complicated, thus the need for parents to have alternative parenting styles to ensure they do not lose touch with their wards.

For both Mr. Dua and Golda Naa Adaku Addo, who is a Management Practitioner and Governance and Leadership strategist, the virtues of being approachable, observant, and candid should assist parents to navigate themselves through the complex situations they may find themselves in.

“Let us use the analogy of driving a car – depending on road surface, you change your gear along side using your break. Sometimes you are accelerating, sometimes you are slowing down. You know the gear you’d not use to climb a hill. In parenting, it is not automatic. You will engage the gears and your child needs the benefit of those smooth transitions.

“As they get older, they expect different parenting so sometimes they can actually say ‘you scolded me in front of somebody and that is the big thing’. So notice these changes they go through. There is a time and age where you draw that child close. You know, by side discipline or not embarrassing the child so on and so forth, so they don’t become bitter and they don’t distance you. There are different parenting styles with different outcomes….children need to explore,” Mr Dua noted.

He further indicated that Ghanaian parents should befriend their wards since it is one of the ways to stay relevant in their lives during such life-changing times.

“They need to feel there is a home base they can come to…For the teens, please be their friends, be there. Ask, observe and make sure you remain relevant in your child’s life,” he added.

Citing the physical and emotional changes adolescents go through such as the development of breasts for females and the breaking of the voice, facial hair for males, he encouraged parents to draw closer to their wards as it is a sensitive period for teenagers.

“All of these things are of concern and have their psychological consequences on the child. If you are an early developer, if you are a late developer, it is a problem. This is what your child is going through during this period…your brain is going through the most rapid changes we can talk about. So you are hungry for knowledge and your mind is expanding,” he added.

Golda Naa Adaku Addo, a mother of two also used the platform to share her experience of being a parent to a 13-year-old boy who is studying at the tertiary level.

In Ghana, it is peculiar to find an early teenager being admitted as a University student due to the country’s educational structure. Such persons should be heading to the Senior High Schools but recent developments have seen quite a number of brilliant young adolescents being enroled in tertiary institutions.

Sharing her experience, Golda Naa Adaku Addo indicated that although the life of her son is unique, he still undergoes the every day adoloscent transition, therefore the need to be an active participant in his life.

“The most interesting aspect of it all is to be able to do equal portioning of observation and engagement. For me, that is my usual approach. If I realize he is anti and agitated and there is a critical conversation we need to have, observing him ahead will enable me to know what time to raise the issue, how to approach it so that I can get the best feedback from him,” she narrated.

She noted that parenting is the biggest job ever.

“It is the most uncertain job ever. Everyone’s parenting needs are different. I think the majority of the parents are so much in need of support themselves,” she added.