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Family Life Cycle - Parenting: Babies Through Adolescents

Parenting young children continued...

Caring for young children cuts into the amount of time you might otherwise spend alone or with your partner. If you did not fully develop some skills in previous phases, such as compromise for the good of the family, your relationship may be strained. For example, divorce or affairs may be more likely to occur during the years of raising young children if parents have not developed strong skills from earlier life stages.

But for those who have the proper tools, this can be a very rewarding, happy time, even with all of its challenges. Optimally, you develop as an individual, as a member of a couple, and as a member of a family.

Specific goals when young children join your family are:

  • Adjusting your marital system to make space for children.
  • Taking on parenting roles.
  • Realigning your relationships with your extended family to include parenting and grandparenting roles.

Parenting adolescents

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, and trust.

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 developments.

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