This week, we’re back to talking about teens. If this is your first experience with parenting a teen, or if your teen is an only child, it may cause confusion or stress as the child you knew begins to grow into someone new.
For those of us who have been through this experience, we can assure you that the other side of it usually turns out just fine.
Your adolescent is going through a stage of development that is rather huge. The process of this stage of adolescence includes:
Separating from their family of origin;
Answering the questions of who am I and whom I wish to be;
Exploring their capacity for intimacy;
Learning to master impulses;
Physically changing from child to adult; and,
Doing so with a brain that is not fully grown.
Whew! That’s a lot, right? In the meantime, you may find yourself embroiled in arguments about autonomy, risk-taking, friends, screen use, academics, what you made for dinner, family time, and on and on it can go.
What should you stand your ground on with your teen, and what is okay to let go (even though it makes you, the parent, feel disgruntled)?
If you have a teen that is pretty well-behaved, gets decent grades, uses their manners outside of the house, and isn’t experimenting with alcohol or drugs, you are very lucky. There is so much that you can let go of here. How they style their hair (it’s just hair), make-up and fashion, messy rooms (close the door), and what they eat.
If you fight about the little things, they will not listen to you about the big things, and the big things (their safety, their mental health, and their future as independent young people, are a few of the big things. Don’t lose sight that adolescence is a short stage, even though some days it doesn’t feel that way. Their job is to differentiate themselves from you. If they are doing that in small acts of benign defiance, close your eyes, close your mouth, give them a hug if they allow it, and just love them for who they are as they make the journey into whom they will become.
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