Surviving the Adolescence War
Adolescence is a developmental period marked by continual instability and volcanic upheaval. Level-headed 12-year-olds become impulsive 13 year-olds. One minute teen-agers are mature responsible youngsters—the next minute they are like a pack of giggly 6-year olds.
Biology is the main culprit here. The biological alarm clock of early adolescence wakes everyone up.
Each developmental period has its own unique goals. The tasks of adolescence are:
- to separate from parents;
- to develop a unique sense of self;
- to exercise judgment (including bad judgment!);
- to develop intimate relationships with others, and;
- to make it alive to adulthood.
This last one is no joke. Every year, particularly around graduation, a number of teens are killed in auto accidents. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of kids do make it into adulthood—bodies and minds intact.
Adolescence strains the parent-child relationship. Fathers and mothers mourn their loss of control and authority. Ah, life was so much easier when you could simply pick them up and put them in their room.
Unfortunately, there is no list of “how to’s” that will still the rough waters of adolescence. They are simply stormy seas that must be navigated. However, here are some important points to remember…
- Teens still need adult authority and limits—even if it is only to rebel against. Don’t try to be “best friends” with your youngster.
- Keep the doors of communication open, even when your adolescent keeps hers shut. Insist on family meals at least once or twice a week.
- Parents need to be there when their kids fall flat on their faces, even when their youngsters tell them to get lost.
It is true. Parents grow up with their children. Teens make the bumpy passage from childhood to adulthood. Parents hold onto their seats with white knuckles showing. When I reflect on my own teen years, I realize that it was the struggle that was important, not the outcome of every debate. I needed my parents to fight with me, to demand more from me, to insist that I come home at a reasonable hour, and to pull in the reins when I didn’t.
Let’s hear about your kids!