Your teenager is gradually exiting childhood. For many parents this period is very challenging. It is a parenting test. Has your teenager accumulated enough sense of security and is ready to go to the world without any supervision on your part? Or is he looking for the security of peer approval? If this is so, your child trusts his peers more than you. What are those teens talking about? What are they doing? As a parent this are some of your concerns.
For a teenager life isn’t any easier either. Choices and opportunities increase, as well as temptations and potential dangers. “Strength of character, formerly asleep, is released with new unclear tormenting desires,” writes Simon Soloveychik. Girls, boys, parties, dating, kisses, drugs, and sex… New freedoms come with new responsibilities, with their severe punishment for wrong choices. If parent-child relationships are based on fear, on threats and demands of obedience, then the teenager strives to self-liberate himself from those imposed fears. It is not matter of who is right or wrong, you or him. It becomes a matter of “Can I stand up for myself or not?”
If heartfelt ties with parents have been formed inside of a child during the previous stages of child development, then there is hope. They will survive difficult times. Nevertheless, the life of a teenager is not easy. There are other fears to overcome: Can I defend myself and my ideas in front of other kids? And there is another sort of fear – I want to try marijuana but I am afraid of hurting my parents. Should I or should I not?
Things become complicated. Your teens are sometimes silly children and sometimes deep thinking philosophers. What can you do to help your teens to grow through this challenging stage? The author of Parenting For Everyone was saying that your home must be a den, where your child can come and rest from his adventures. Your teenager is still fragile. So meet your teen with a smile, no matter what he is up to. At times, this can be difficult, but this is what is called unconditional love.
Some parents say, “My teen doesn’t want to do anything. He is lazy.” This is the worst thing that may happen to a young person. However, most likely it is not the absence of desires that bothers your teen. It is a feeling of powerlessness, where everything the teenager wants is forbidden or seems impossible to achieve. Parents think their teen is bored, lazy, doesn’t want to do anything; whereas in fact the child doesn’t want to do what parents want him to do. Instead of assuming the worst parents should encourage the teen’s faith in his abilities.
Teen years. It’s a scary time for fearful, insecure parents. It’s a rewarding time for brave, trusting parents, though it is very challenging. While your teen develops his growing character he tests yours. The reward comes from the realization that you are learning to love unconditionally and sometimes, you are able to.