Parenting Teens how to let them go

You may feel as though you’re living with a stranger.  The youngster you loving nurtured all these years is beginning to grow away from you. The realization can bring on fear, anger and pain.

Take a deep breath and an emotional step backwards.  Remember that the young person in your home is on their way towards becoming an adult. It’s normal for them to struggle to establish their own identity apart from the family. The term used by most therapists is developing individuating.

There are factors that are working against you. They are to a large extent out of your control but understanding them can help you better deal with the process of allowing your teenager to solo.

The teenager’s brain is still going about the business of maturing.  It is undergoing a process called synaptic pruning which will allow it to process information at a higher rate of speed and draw on more resources such as memory when making decisions.  The National Institutes of Health conducted a study of over one hundred young people as they went through their teen years.  It was found that the brain steadily grows into a remarkable processing machine.  In doing so it helps control impulsive behavior by allowing its owner to think through problems.  The catch is it takes practice and reacts somewhat clumsily at first. What this means to the parent is that some impulsive behavior at this age is normal.

The above information may not help when a teenager makes a bad judgment call, but it does allow their parents to understand why it happened and that (in most cases) all is far from lost.  It is part of becoming an adult. They need a safe nest to return to after failing and scaring the feathers off their parents.

Depending on the economy a young person may have difficulty finding a job. The real problem is society begins to encourage an age of irresponsibility. In a high unemployment atmosphere the younger generation is given a free pass for a limited period of time. When the work force is over inflated young people are allowed to lengthen their adolescence.

Every family is different with its own set of guidelines and expectations. For many parents society does not enforce or even encourage the value system they’ve raised their children to embrace. To add to the problem is the over stimulation by the media from almost every angle. Some parents feel as they’re under a constant state of attack in the battle to protect and guide their young. It makes letting go of a young adult more difficult.

The world is a busy place and the demands placed on most people can be overwhelming. Parents come home from work tired and looking forward to relaxing at home. It can be easier to handle the issues themselves rather then deal with the anxiety of watching their child struggle. When possible back away and allow her to deal with her problems. If she fails or comes to you on her own she’ll learn the lesson of the day.

Regardless of these factors the young person should be encouraged to work towards independence. Consider what’s going on between you and your teenager. Both your roles are changing and the process can be harrowing.

Dependence versus Independence

Your child is struggling to find his way. While financial independence may be years in the future they should be allowed to make some choices on their own well before they live apart from the family. Towards that end allow your teen to make decisions. There are some things you have to control but others that aren’t vital. The trick is picking your battles. Win what has to be won and allow your teen some victories. While it may ruffle your feathers blue hair grows out and black clothes can be replaced. They need to practice decision making so allow them to flex their mental muscles.

Enforcer versus Advice Giver

While it may be a smoke screen, as you are still in control, try making suggestions rather than enforcing rules.  It will be easier for her to swallow and back down from her position. The truth is your teenager probably values your advice more she admits.

Being There

Wrong choices are going to be made. Adults still make them so while it can be frustrating it’s understandable. You probably could have prevented it but then he wouldn’t have learned from the experience. Besides while he’s still under your care he can fall back into the nest and grow longer tail feathers for the next flight. He should take responsibility for the mistake. If there’s a cost involved he will have to pay you back.

The years of effort and love you’ve put into parenting aren’t wasted they’re being utilized. The ultimate compliment your child can pay you is being able to stand on his own feet and think for himself. While he may be influenced by his peer group he’ll ultimately wish to decide on which currents to glide. You’ve given him the mental tools and allowed him to practice.

There are probably few people who can get you angrier faster or scare you worse than your teenager. One of the main reasons is that you love her and want to protect her at all costs. But this is a time to allow her to try her wings and it can be painful for both parties.  In most cases the teen years end and a well adjusted young adult emerges. The love between parent and child doesn’t end it evolves.