The primary job of the teenager is to define his or her values and develop the personality to prepare for moving away from parents into his or her own lifestyle. The job of the parents is to make this possible. One problem is that the teen will act like a child one day and more mature the next, causing parents to be confused as to how to treat that teen. Another problem could be that parents will never feel that the teen is responsible enough to handle responsibility and thus not provide the support needed toward independence. Then the teen will move out to go to college or get married or whatever and will not be prepared for life. Clients tell me that I have a knack for helping parents and teens work through this kind of issue. Then when the teen moves out, neither teen or parents worries that he will not be able to find his place in society.
Parents cannot talk with teen and vice versa
This is a common problem for parents and teens. What happens when puberty begins is that the teen will experience life in a kind of ethereal way, mystical almost, where he or she will understand old things in completely new ways. The teen holds these new truths as precious and will not share them with parents for fear of having them dismissed or criticized. Since most of what the teen in thinking and feeling pertain to these new “secrets”, he or she will clam up and not communicate at all. With the onset of smart phones and video games teens can pretend to be absorbed in the phone as a way to avoid interaction with parents. Neither parents nor teens feel “heard” and that exacerbates poor communication in the home.
I insist that teens learn the eight skills described in my book The Big White Dog with Green Eyes. These are eight relationship skills the parents never learned growing up. When parents and teens learn and practice these skills together their relationship is revolutionized. Both parent and teen have a great appreciation for them as they give both the communication of love and respect they so desire. The less effective relationship skills the parents learned growing up do not prepare them for communication with teens. Using these new skills makes all the difference. In addition to greatly improving communication between family members, the skills help the teens share with existing friends thoughts and feelings their less effective skills could not. Learning the skills also helps the teens make new friends, become more popular and avoid the use of alcohol and drugs.
Alcohol and Drug Use
When children become teens, they feel emotions more strongly than ever before. As never before, they are faced with the responsibilities of growing up and all the stress that brings. Another way of saying this is that they are facing life for the first time. Many cannot stand the pressure and use alcohol and drugs to alter their senses to be able to handle the stress. By learning the Eight Skills, they will find growing up to be easier. They will learn how to listen to others, actually “hear” what they mean, learn an emotional language for communication with fewer words, and learn how to talk through issues with parents and friends in ways never conceived of before. Instead of losing their lives to addictions as too many teens do, they will be learning how to use their strengths to get ahead in forging meaningful lifestyles.