Saying that the teenage years can be difficult is an understatement. That little boy or girl who relied on you for every decision suddenly seems like they could not care less, but that is not actually true. After 13 years of working with teenagers, I can tell you that they listen to you more than you think. They are paying attention to every thing you say and every decision you make, even when they look like they could not be bothered with you. They are battling between leaning on you, and figuring out who they are as people. Their quest for autonomy along with their confusion causes a push and pull that can make for a very difficult home life for everyone.
There is no prescription for this. Each young person is a unique individual, trying to develop their own ideas. This quest towards independence means challenging what their parents have told them, and often means coming right back to the values that were instilled in them by you. Sometimes, it does not. So how do you deal with this?
Remember, all of the things you did to show your love are still appreciated and valued by your teenage, even if they have trouble showing it. They still want and need to feel like you are there for them and enjoy them. Celebrate their achievements, forgive their mistakes, listen to them when they have a problem and show interest in how they plan to solve it. Support them in their problem solving. Feeling included and special is vital for every young person’s sense of positive self-esteem.
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling & Mediation in Oaklyn, NJ.
Adapted from The Better Health Channel - http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
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