Firebirds finesse relationships with their folks

Firebirds finesse relationships with their folks

Tension can often arise in student-parent relationships, resulting in arguments.

Once students make their leap into high school and become more independent, relationships with parents can become tricky.

Many factors play in to a good relationship between students and parents. Whether it’s single parents, divorced parents or parents who are still together, agreeing on things doesn’t always come easy.

Fairmont freshman Cori Campbell says her parents often don’t see eye to eye on what she’s allowed to do. “This is one factor that really makes my relationship with my parents difficult,” said Campbell. “My mom will tell me I can do one thing, and the next minute my dad doesn’t agree.”

Despite her occasional difficulties, Campbell thinks maintaining a positive relationship with parents is easier than some might think. “If people actually listen to what their parents have to say and actually do what they are told, then their parents would be happy and would be more likely to let the kid do something,” she said.

Sophomore Damian Hughes’ relationship with his parents is as close as it comes to perfect. “Since I’m an only child, I’m very close with my parents. I’m always truthful,” he said. “They track my progress with grades, and that determines what I can and can’t do on the weekends.”

Although some students find getting along with their parents an easy task, others face challenging obstacles that put unwanted strain on their relationships.

A Fairmont junior who wished to remain anonymous feels as if her own “implied independence” has been taken too far. “My dad works all the time, and my mom is constantly busy with my brother because he is autistic,” she said. “It bothers me a lot because they aren’t involved in anything that I do. It’s basically like they don’t pay attention to me.”

Although adversity can create problems in some families, some students feel it can bring them closer to their parents.

During her sophomore year, junior Monica Wagner’s mother died. Because of this tragic event, Wagner says she and her father are closer than ever. “We talk about everything and get along really well. My dad is super funny, so it makes it easy,” she said.

Wagner admits, however, that the dynamics of the family have changed since her mother’s death. “Although having my mom gone has brought my dad and I closer, it has also made it a lot more stressful,” she said. “I have to almost take on the ‘mom role’ by doing all of the cleaning on top of everything else in my life. But we always get through it.”

Divorce can have multiple effects on student-parent relationships. Though students sometimes deal with confusion and an off-balance relationship due to divorced parents, it can also bring them closer to their parents.

Junior Kristina Fothergill’s parents got a divorce when she was only in the fourth grade. “It was really weird because we grew up in a church, and so we never expected it at all,” she said. “But we all just went along with it, and it turned out to make my relationship with my dad stronger.”

Sometimes students want to explore how far they can go with their independence, and this almost always stresses parents out. Junior Kati Molnar likes to be independent, but she feels her mom’s constant hovering makes it hard. “She’s very involved with our school and everything we are involved in, including extracurricular activities,” she said. “Although this is important for a parent, it gets annoying fast.”

Despite this, Molnar says she’s close to her mother. “I still feel as if I can tell my mom anything.”

Holly Molnar, Kati’s mom, enjoys the company of her daughter and feels they have a good relationship. “I think it’s neat how we can just get in a car to go antiquing, thrifting or to lunch and talk about everything freely. The key to having a good relationship with your kids is to have that mutual respect. They need to respect their parents because they have the final say, but the parents also need to realize the kid’s input is important as well,” said Molnar. “This is the kind of relationship Kati and I have.”

Karen Johnson, Fairmont High School’s psychologist, says the interaction between the Molnars – mostly good but with some issues concerning the independence of the teen – is normal. “This kind of relationship is pretty typical. Adolescence is all about striking out on your own and establishing individuality,” said Johnson. “We are actually genetically programmed to break away from our parents. This is a good thing, yet sometimes hard for parents to handle.”

Seniors especially tend to want to branch out, test their individuality and ease into their independence because college is so close. Fairmont senior Tony Cannon says this adjustment comes naturally to him. “My parents work all the time, so I’ve always been independent,” Cannon said. “Even though I have always been alone, I’m comfortable with my mom, and I can be honest and open in all subjects.”

Johnson believes students wanting to ease into their independence early is a good and natural thing. “Kids who are able to break away easily usually take the lead in their relationship with their parents,” she said.

Developing a healthy relationship with parents isn’t always easy, but it certainly can be done. Johnson says communication, listening and mutual respect are the three main factors to maintaining a good parent-teen relationship.

“Students and parents who have good relationships – and even ones who don’t – have to communicate calmly. The students need to give their parents a reason to trust them,” said Johnson. “The key is to be open and honest.”