Adolescence is a stressful time for both parents and teenagers. Your relationship is in the midst of a big transition and this can put a lot of pressure on the family.
Why is adolescence so hard? Your teenager is in the process of figuring out what kind of person they might become.
Their body is changing and they’re experiencing emotions they’ve never felt before.
Your teenager is also becoming more independent. They’re finding ways to assert themselves. And to make this phase even more challenging, they’re trying to keep up with social pressures, which hit their peak at adolescence.
But all this doesn't mean the teenage years are a walk in the park for you! Decisions that were ultimately in your hands are now shifting to be in your child's, and this is scary. You also may be grieving the loss of their childhood. It’s a process of letting go.
What does your teenager need?
Family connection is vital during this time, and we connect through open communication. Communication is essential when it comes to teenagers (and all relationships). While a teenager is looking for independence and may not seem to want to talk, keeping communications lines open is important.
Communication is generally a two-way street, however, make sure you’re listening. Be curious about their lives and what they’re experiencing. Try to understand them. Listening without giving advice helps your teen talk for longer and gives them an opportunity to unravel their thoughts.
Supporting your child through respectful communication will increase the likelihood that they will go to you when they need help or advice.
Although your teen is becoming more independent, of course there will still be rules. But how do you impose them?
Imposing rules without explaining the reason for the restriction can be confusing for a teen. It’s also confusing when rules are inconsistent. It’s a good idea to explain the reason for the rule, as well as being consistent in enforcing them.
Of course, teenagers will break rules even when they understand and agree with them. The thrill of violating them is too intense. That’s okay, it’s all part of growing up. The consequences of breaking rules is up to you, but boundaries are important in their understanding of right from wrong.
Respect their space
Although communication is important, teenagers also need their space. It’s perfectly normal to miss your past relationship, especially when your teen is being distant, but remember this phase will pass. Respecting their space will result in them respecting you in return.
How do you respect space?
Try not to intrude in their social lives (their friends are their friends, not yours)
Respect their privacy (you don’t need to know everything)
Avoid unnecessarily criticising them
Allow them to be alone
Support new friendships and social outings
Support new interests even if they’re not in line with yours
A challenging time
Being a parent is never easy and adolescence is particularly challenging. Every teenager is different, one will experience bullying, another won’t. Every adolescent will go through their own experience. Be flexible and open to whatever happens, try and be as supportive as possible and keep communication lines active. These are the building blocks to a strong relationship in the future.
When adolescence has ended and they’re young adults, they will come back. And you will be ready to support them through their next journey.
As always, I’m here if you need guidance and support