She’s hardly at home anymore - he’s arguing with you all the time – she says ‘S up’ and you respond ‘what does that mean?’- he changes his mind every minute and has an opinion about everything: Welcome to the rollercoaster stage of seeing your child turn into a teenager! It’s not an easy place to be in – loud music, extreme mood swings, back answering, obsession with friends, experimentation with clothes, hairstyles, substances, sex and the list goes on. You probably feel scared, confused and helpless about how to deal with them. On the one hand they are too old to be treated as kids and on the other hand they are too young to be treated as adults – and you wonder what can you do or not do - to make them feel that you are for them, and not against them.
This is one of the most challenging stages for you as parents. How you treat your teenager has important and long term consequences that are critical to the wellbeing of your child throughout adulthood.
The most important tasks that you as a parent need to accomplish in this stage are:
Questions/Struggles that you may experience in this stage with your teenager
- Encourage autonomy yet provide parental guidance
- Increase the flexibility of family boundaries and modulate parental authority
- Review your own standards and attitudes about sexuality, before enforcing rules
- Provide support in the process of the adolescent finding their identity
- Deal with the sense of loss of earlier attachment patterns with your child
- Adjusting family relationships to focus on mid-life and career issues
- Taking on responsibility for caring for families of origin
- He/She wants his way all the time
- I feel angry and horrible that my teenager is back answering me.
- Suddenly my son/daughter is spending too much time and money on looking attractive
- What can I do when I find my child watching pornography?
- I feel angry and helpless when I see my adolescent acting opposite to the values we’ve brought them up with.
- My son/daughter seems confused all the time
- How can I help my son/daughter understand the process of puberty?
- My teenager doesn’t talk to me anymore and has become quiet and withdrawn
- Gosh...how do I deal with my teenager’s fickle mindedness?
- I feel hurt that my son/daughter is no longer attached to us as before
- How do I cope with a sense of loss to see my child no longer wanting to spend time with me?
- My son/daughter is always too self conscious – they act as if the whole world is watching them!
- How can I help my adolescent who seems depressed and lonely?
- I just discovered a cigarette in my son/daughter’s room!
- My son/daughter is never at home and deadlines don’t seem to work anymore
- How can I help answer my teenager’s questions about sex and sexuality?
- He/she is always withdrawn from us but very attached to his/her friends
- What do I do when my teenager keeps saying he wants to run away from home?
- Movies, music and television seem to influence my teenager in every way – what can I do?
- I feel guilty when I see my him/her becoming distant from the family
- My teenager has an opinion about everything and makes me angry by always arguing with me
- He/she talks or jokes about suicide, should I take it seriously?
- My teenager’s grades are falling, why could this be happening?
- How can I cope with the stress of taking care of both elderly members and teenagers in the family?
- I feel frustrated and confused about my role and identity – am I going through a mid life crisis?
We know how stressful and helpless you might be feeling if you’re going through any of the above struggles. Not only do you have a teenager to take care of, but also your own needs and issues of mid-life. Many parents have found it useful to talk it over with a trained professional. Not only have they gained powerful insights into dealing with their teenagers but have also learnt to take care of themselves in this process.
If you’d like to meet a trained counsellor, learn more about New Directions individual counselling services and couples counselling services.