The arrival of spring is often prime time for hay fever, but adolescents seem to be able to develop an allergy to their parents, either intermittent or chronic, at any time of the year. This allergy usually has a sudden onset around age 13 and can last for months or, in some cases, years. When, between the ages of 9 and 13, the young person separates from childhood and enters adolescence, parents discover that cooperation and compliance are now harder to secure. They find they have left the age of command and have entered the age of consent. Among the painful parental losses that the onset of their child’s adolescence brings, is a loss of influence – of the capacity to get their way.
Being the parent of a teen is an especially daunting phase of life’s journey. As parents begin to notice the significant changes that come with adolescence (physical changes brought about by puberty, the constant angst and moodiness, and of course the classic eye-rolling and the I-know-it-all attitude), they wonder just what happened to their happy, sweet, and affectionate young boy or girl. Parents sit by amazed–and often lost and unprepared–as they witness their child morph and mutate into a full-blown pubescent display of emotions.
As teenagers begin to disentangle from their folks, they inevitably sort a parent’s every behavior and predilection into one of two categories: those they reject, and those they intend to adopt. Unfortunately for the peace of the household, each of these categories creates its own problem for teenagers’ intent on establishing their individuality.
“Sometimes I’m left with the distinct feeling that I am outnumbered by my only child.” Colleen Ferrary Bader
Friends have an enormous influence on teens. Whether it is what style of clothes they wear, what type of music they listen to, or even how they talk, a teenager’s way of thinking usually revolves around their social life. The topic of teenage romance and sex has always been charged, but today’s pervasive digital technology has succeeded in turning up the wattage.
Some parents have an easy and open channel with their adolescent around all things amorous while others find the subject painfully awkward and try to avoid it altogether. Regardless of where you and your teenager sit on this spectrum, the digital world puts a new spin on some of the timeless challenges of coming of age. And despite the fact that high school dating for today’s teenagers has little to do with long-term commitments and/or marriage, modern-day romantic relationships among teens are very common.
It can be easy for parents to treat increasing cultural contrast between the teenager’s world and their own as necessarily estranging, chalking emerging differences in enjoyments, tastes, values, as an inevitable generation gap that adolescence grows them and their teenager apart. To encourage ongoing intimacy with their teenager, the parent must bridge these cultural differences with interest.
“There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.”
According to Dr. Sara Villanueva, a prominent psychologist specializing in the adolescent years, “They are not alone in their experience of raising teens; many, many people have gone through it and we can all relate to and learn from one another.
Most of what your teen is feeling and expressing is normal and falls within the expected range of behavior for adolescent development.” Despite the challenges involved in parenting teens, we should take time to focus on the positive things in life and live with our child through the tough teenage years so that we emerge on the other side with friendship and a deeper bond.The Author Dr. Rukhsana Saifee is an Associate Prof. (English) at the Chartered Institute of Technology, Abu Road. Views are personal.