We hear many parents express their frustrations about their tween or teen children developing attitudes and behaviors that push their buttons like never before. These formerly sweet and caring children start showing signs of disinterest, disrespect, perhaps even dislike toward their parents. They seem to be pushing us away, and sometimes, in our hurt and frustration, we feel compelled to turn away as well.
Lisa Damour, author of many books and articles on teen girls, shares a poignant metaphor comparing parents to the wall of a swimming pool (and it relates equally to boys and girls):
“Your daughter needs a wall to swim to, and she needs you to be a wall that can withstand her comings and goings. Some parents feel too hurt by their swimmers, take too personally their daughter’s rejections, and choose to make themselves unavailable to avoid going through it again … But being unavailable comes at a cost … Their daughters are left without a wall to swim to and must navigate choppy—and sometimes dangerous—waters all on their own.”
Leaders at the Fuller Youth Institute provides some helpful responses to this common, normal and necessary phenomenon in their article:
What Teenagers Need From Us More Than (Almost) Anything Else.
The article provides thoughtful recommendations regarding how we can respond in healthy ways to provide critical support to our growing teens (and ourselves).
At WPC, we try to help parents navigate the choppy waters of parenting by offering a Christian perspective for approaching each stage. We are working toward offering a study of the Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, a handbook that provides actionable tools to help families develop healthy relationships and faith as their kids grow. The MOMs Group already has the study underway. Stay tuned for more classes.
And mark your calendars for a special upcoming event: Raising Resilient Children Amidst Today's Societal Challenges, April 8, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Join us for an evening of education and awareness with Dr. Brad Reedy, PhD - Author of The Journey of the Heroic Parent. This event will discuss the challenges our families face raising children in an age of technology, high expectations, and cultural definitions of success.
Other resources we recommend for the teenage years:
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
The Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers
Let us know if you have a favorite book!
“There are few situations in life more difficult to cope with than an adolescent son or daughter during the attempt to liberate themselves.” Anna Freud