Parenting Teens Challenges Adults

ADOLESCENCE HARD ON PARENTS, TOO

 

When I was a kid we were very aware of the generation

gap.  We called ourselves “freaks” because we thought we were

different.  We thought we were having a revolution. Our

parents looked on, dismayed, bewildered, and resentful

that we didn’t seem to appreciate the sacrifices they had

made to guarantee our lives of prosperity and freedom.

Now the worm has turned.  The machinery of life has

chewed us up and spit us out.  Now, we are the parents.

We’re getting what we used to give and giving what we used to

get.  Now we see why it’s hard to raise adolescents.

Temple University psychology professor, Laurence

Steinberg, made a three-year study of two

hundred families whose oldest child was entering adolescence.

Steinberg discovered that forty percent of the parents

underwent an abrupt decline in their own mental health at the

time of their oldest child’s adolescence.  They felt

rejected, powerless and full of regrets about their own life

choices.

University of Illinois researchers, Reed Larson and

Maryse Richards have found a hazardous perception gap between

fathers and teens.  Fathers who perceived themselves as

involved, effective parents had kids who felt unheard,

misunderstood and angry about being steamrollered.  Many

fathers were so unskilled at reading teens’ emotional signals

that they perceived them as much happier than they were.

Mothers, it was found, were likely to be hyper-aware of

their childrens’ changing relationship with them.  Between

fifth and eighth grade, most kids withdraw from their mothers

and take less pleasure in their company.  Mothers continue to

feel as warmly as ever and are hurt by the loss of affection

and companionship as kids detach.

The temptation is strong for parents to detach, also.

Faced with their own impotence, vulnerability and the

competing pressures of other demands on their time, parents

are likely to back off.  Rejection is not easy to take.

But parents should resist this temptation and stay

involved.  Teens still need their support, guidance and love.

 

 

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