The evolution of the teenager. I adore watching this unfold. Many think teens are scary. Boys, girls, it doesn't matter. Teens can frighten people with their looks and energy.
Why I love teens is because at the heart of who they are, they are just trying to figure it all out. With their parents they may act self-righteous, entitled, and inferior. With other adults, teens can sometimes let down their parental guard and be real about what is on their minds.
College, grades, and friends are often at the heart of what is weighing in. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and being cool are also at the forefront for many teens.
I love to ask teens the tough questions. Give them a place to talk about the stuff parents are afraid to tackle. Many teens express a reserve in talking with their own parents. Some are afraid of the response they will get. Some are embarassed for themselves and for their parents.
Talking with both teen boys and teen girls as a parent is a slippery slope. Teens can make parents feel like they hate them, don’t want to talk with them, and are annoyed by the very quiet breath they take. It is hard to have a meaningful conversation when your teen is in this place.
I would always encourage a parent to keep the door open. To continue to try and talk with their teen even if their teen isn’t taking the bait. Not hound the child, but finding small windows of opportunity to engage and then seeing what happens. Just listening is a good move. I cannot tell you how many teenagers complain their parents don't listen.
If your teen is refusing to talk with you, it may be worthwhile to get them connected with a responsible adult they will talk to. A neighbor, family member, or therapist may be a good way to know your child is sharing and getting some good feedback regarding their thoughts and behaviors.
This can be difficult for parents to allow another adult to play a role in their teen’s life they wanted to play. Parents can feel jealous and left out when another adult is getting more from their teen in 15 minutes then they got all week. If parents can put the emotions aside and see how their teenager can benefit from a healthy adult interaction, they may feel less threatened and more relieved.
If we all can take a moment to recollect what it was like to be teenager, most of us will remember keeping our parents at a distance, at least some of the time. Why we remember this distance is because it is developmentally normal for teens to begin to separate from their parents. This process is called individuation and we all have gone through it. Because of this process we no longer live with our parents.
So breathe a sigh of relief what you’re facing is normal as far as teens pushing parents away emotionally. But if you are concerned you have the means to help support your teen by finding a trusted adult who can give them the parental guidance they may not be able to hear from you. And let out a second breathe of relief knowing they can turn out OK.
I allow the process of life to unfold for my teen.