It happened so fast. My usually cheerful daughter transitioned into a mood-filled teenager. We still see glimpses of her former self, but a more independent and intense aspect of her personality is emerging. Although this change has been surprising, it’s perfectly normal. And it’s prompted some changes to my parenting style to respect and embrace this new phase.
The teen years are a period of intense growth – physically, emotionally and intellectually. Teens are starting the process of separating from their parents and developing as individuals. Toss in a bunch of hormones and increased pressure from school, peers and life in general…it’s no surprise that teens are complex.
Like every phase of childhood, it’s important for parents to stay loving and connected with their teen…despite the eye-rolls and closed doors. But what does that look like?
To answer this question, I asked some teenagers: What do you wish your parents understood about teenagers? Their responses offer insight and guidance.
- I need alone time. “I need some time, alone, to regenerate regularly.”
- I’d like to be more independent. “I want to try to run my own life, so I don’t need as many reminders. Yes, I’m going to forget stuff sometimes, but I’d like the chance to try to do things on my own.”
- I need some privacy. “When I was little, I didn’t mind when someone walked right into my room, but now I want people to knock.”
- I don’t like it when you make fun of teenage behavior. “When I’m in a bad mood, it doesn’t help when you make fun of me or just write it off as teen stuff.”
Underneath these responses are requests for acceptance, respect and more independence.
This doesn’t mean allowing inappropriate behavior or ignoring house rules. Teens still need loving parents and boundaries. Boundaries show kids that we care about them and their well-being after all.
However, as I adjust to having an adolescent in the house, I’m trying to adjust my approach. I’m trying to balance her need for space with her need for connection. Her need for independence with her need for support. Her need for privacy with her need to have parents that are interested and care about her life and well-being.
Yes, it’s a balancing act for sure and I’m learning every step of the way. So far so good, but she’s only 13. I’ll keep you posted…
PASS IT ON. Jessica Speer’s weekly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Posts offer simple ideas to help kids and families connect & foster healthy relationships. If you know someone who might appreciate this content, please pass it on! Click here to follow blog via email or Facebook.