Parenting teenagers can be a
rough time for your family and can test your relationship skills. It's also a
time for positive growth and creative exploration for your entire family.
Families that function best during this period have strong, flexible relationships
developed through good communication, problem solving, mutual caring, support,
Most teens experiment with different thoughts,
beliefs, and styles, which can cause family conflict. Your strengths as an
individual and as part of a couple are critical as you deal with the increasing
challenges of raising a teenager. Strive for a balanced atmosphere in which
your teenager has a sense of support and emotional safety as well as
opportunities to try new behaviors. An important skill at this stage is
flexibility as you encourage your child to become independent and creative.
Establish boundaries for your teenager, but encourage exploration at the same
time. Teens may question themselves in many areas, including their sexual orientation and gender identities.
Because of what you learned when you developed your identity in the earlier stages of life, you may feel more prepared and more secure about the changes
your child is going through. But if you did not work through these skills at
earlier stages of life, you may feel threatened by your child's new
Flexibility in the roles each person plays in the
family system is a valuable skill to develop at this stage. Responsibilities
such as the demands of a job or caring for someone who is ill may require each
person in the family to take on various, and sometimes changing, roles.
This is a time when one or more family members may feel some level of
depression or other distress. It may also lead to
physical complaints that have no physical cause (somatization disorders such as stomach upsets and some headaches) along with other
relationship and your individual growth can sometimes be ignored at this stage.
Toward the end of this phase, a parent's focus shifts from the maturing teen to
career and relationship. Neglecting your personal development and your relationship can
make this shift difficult.
You also may begin thinking about your
role in caring for aging parents. Making your own health a priority in this
phase is helpful as you enter the next stage of the family life cycle.
Specific goals during the stage of parenting adolescents include:
- Shifting parent-child relationships to allow
the child to move in and out of the family system.
- Shifting focus
back to your midlife relationship and career issues.
- Beginning a shift
toward concern for older generations in your extended family.