In teen counseling, I have worked with many parents and children who simply could not understand each other. If men and women have a hard time relating to each other because one sex is from Mars while another is from Venus, it can often feel for a frustrated parent that teenagers are from another galaxy altogether. The teenage years are years of rebellion or, more accurately, a time of detaching from their parents. If you find yourself arguing with your teen because your relationship has changed or you’re suspicious of his new friends and the time he spends with them, know that you’re not alone.
In The Beginning
When children are very young, their parents are their whole world. They follow them everywhere and panic when they’re out of sight; and, as they grow, they emulate their parents, listen to them and do what their parents tell them to do. In fact, when children are little, the bond between them and their parents is so strong, most parents can’t ever foresee anything endangering, much less breaking, it.
As Time Goes By
With adolescence comes big changes in the parent-child relationship. Physical and emotional changes not only make teens sometimes moody, sullen and irrational, it also makes them want to detach from their parents in a way that is difficult for parents to deal with. This “individuation,” or process of achieving individuality, is a stage of development that is normal but can be tumultuous, especially for parents and children who have been extremely close in the past.
As they separate from their parents, teens usually begin bonding more with peers and turning to them for the advice, comfort and companionship that they once got from their parents. While many parents take this in stride because they understand that it’s a normal, healthy part of child development, some parents don’t take it well. These parents sometimes consciously, or unconsciously, attempt to manipulate their children into choosing them over friends, which can lead to serious emotional consequences for teens that can manifest in the form of arguments and withdrawal.
You can help your teen and yourself with these suggestions for handling teenage rebellion:
- Understand that everyone goes through this rebellious phase, even you, and that it’s normal.
- Get to know your teen’s friends by inviting them over. This can help to dispel the notion that they are your enemies.
- Make sure your teen knows what you expect from him in reference to his behavior and his place in the family.
- Have faith that your teen will make good choices especially when it comes to choosing friends.
- Get help with teen counseling if lines of communication break down or your child is having a particularly hard time dealing with adolescence.
If you’re having problems relating to or understanding your teenager and you need help, call us at Insight Child & Family Counseling at (972) 426-9500. You can also visit us online at www.j9n.83e.myftpupload.com to find out more about our services including teen counseling.