Parenting the adolescent
Adolescence is a major time of transition in an individual’s life - the “in between” that comes AFTER childhood and BEFORE adulthood. Not only is the body making significant changes during this time - with hormonal development, brain changes, and puberty - but teens going through this stage of life also begin to question themselves, their beliefs, their friends, their parents, and many other things. I can remember entering adolescence and beginning to feel somewhat “independent” as my parents gave me more responsibilities and trust, but I also remember it being extremely frustrating - as I often wanted more freedom than was given and I struggled with the intense ups and downs of emotions that we very new to me. My personal assumption is that if you take the time to think about it, you probably experienced much of the same frustrations when you were a teenager as well and could therefore agree with me when I say that adolescence is definitely not an “easy” transition in life.
Because of this difficult phase of life, I believe the best gift parents can give their adolescent’s is “roots” and “wings”. As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children his/her core belief system (their “roots”). Helping them define what’s right vs. what is wrong, and giving them a path to follow in regard to their future while encouraging them to continue making each step along the way is vital to their well-being.
When it comes to wings - I believe your role, as a parent, is to know when your child is ready to take on more responsibility and when you may need to hold back the reigns, so to say. Children need to practice their own independence and making their own decisions, while their parents allow them to suffer certain consequences from bad decisions because they know that life is about LEARNING and without giving their children the opportunity, they will hinder them rather than help them succeed in life. An important aspect of this part of parenting is also not forgetting to take the time to have one on one conversations with your adolescent, while allowing them to ask any “adult” questions that come up along their journey. I hope that when my children reach this age I can swallow the lump in my throat if they ask me something that takes me off guard and just be happy that they are coming to ME rather than a peer group or some random adult that I may not agree with! Stick in there and if anything, try to remember what it was like to be a teenager. It’s not easy, but with your help, your adolescent can make it through happy and healthy!