Teens are going to change, and as parents, in order to maintain a healthy relationship, have to change with them. In the same way that we could never communicate with a spouse or employer in the same way as a small child without experiencing a huge amount of resistance, our dialogs we share with our teens will be wrought with friction and resentments if we refuse or are incapable of responding within the relationship to our teen's changes.
The great advantage to changing our perception of our teens is that it creates a safe space in which we can non-invasively GUIDE our teens through this passage. Remember how out of control those years felt? How isolating? The feelings of not being understood?
These safety breaks are a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the respect that we'd like to see from our teens, as well as acting as a sort of currency we can fall back on when we are treated with less respect than is acceptable by our offspring. We become an oasis from the difficult changes our kids are going through; an opportunity in which our kids have refuge from their own storm.
We can ask them about their experiences giving them a forum that may not otherwise exist to process their transition.
We can listen without offering advise or judgment, empowering our teens to direct their focus, lessening their feelings of loss of control.
Its terrifying that as a culture, we have such a bias against those in their teen years that our kids have to walk through fire to make it safely through this stage of development. Imagine attempting to maintain any semblance of self esteem while simultaneously having to prove your worth to every person you come into contact with; every interaction filtered through the socially acceptable practice of judging you as being loud, obnoxious, rebellious, volatile, untrustworthy, dishonest, and promiscuous. Its blatant stereotyping.
With nearly all social intercourse filtered through this perspective, it would be unnatural for our teens NOT to rebel against adults; its a matter of emotional self defense! It means our kids are fighting against an identity that's been foisted upon them without any justification. In this case, the chicken came BEFORE the egg.
What a valuable gift it is at any age, to be loved unconditionally and to have recognition of our precious value!
To be comforted when we're hurting and lashing out.
To be accepted and given respect.
There are, as with any close relationship, many opportunities to offend and be offended by our teenagers. The CAN be unruly and uncontrollable.
But, as parents, THAT'S WHAT WE WANT.
We want our teen to grow into adults who can control THEMSELVES. Who can rule THEMSELVES. Make healthy decisions THEMSELVES.
We need to create an environment in which our teens can identify their own feelings, needs, and personal boundaries in conflict situations; these are extremely valuable life tools that will prove necessary again and again, allowing them to maintain a personal sense of peace, precious conflict resolution skills, and the ability to maintain healthy relationships well into adulthood… and a family atmosphere in which all can breathe deep