Adolescence presents one of the greatest challenges for most parents in terms of keeping and maintaining a balanced relationship with their son or daughter. Its hard not to experience rocky periods from time to time, but rocky probably describes a way of relating that’s closer to a normal relationship with a developing adolescent. I suppose thats what its all about, trying to negotiate a significant change in how the relationship operates without having all out war or a complete breakdown in communication.
Relationship Challenges with adolescents Trust and letting go.
Two of the biggest challenges that many parents can experience are letting go and trusting that things are going to work out. However, its not just about letting your teenager have everything their own way or letting them do whatever they want, even though at times we may be be tempted to let them off and let them see what its like when they decide to strike out on their own. Today parents are beginning to experience their sons or daughters adolescence phase earlier, and also longer. Recent research suggests that the developmental stage can continue on into their mid twenties. If fact, recent economic trends mean that Mom and Dad can have a “lodger” coming and going until well into their thirties. Clearly the sheer length of this revised “developmental phase” is going to challenge even the best equipped and prepared parent. While all of this may seem overwhelming the attached article on what teens want from their parents, helps break it down into manageable stages.
Old Fears and Old Stories
But having already said all that, believing that letting go and trusting that things will work are going is going to create its own anxiety for most parents for many different reasons. For a start this is probably not how we were brought up ourselves and so we as parents have no real experience of trusting and letting go of a child we love and see as vulnerable. Its more likely that under stress and anxiety we will revert to how we were parented ourselves. This stress often initiates old patterns of behaviour and belief that can get in the way of building a loving realtionship , e.g “because I said so, thats the why”, “you will play by my rules as long as you are under my roof”, etc, etc. For many parents a new way of relating happens by experience, most often with our first born. Its where we get our first real experience of relating to and parenting a teenager. It brings us into contact with our own fears and what we have learned about the world. Its not easy to move from ten or eleven years of being in charge to sharing the responsibility with our teenager.
Building a space and a time to communicate is an essential part of maintaining a balanced relationship with anyone. Its the foundation of gaining the confidence to trust and letting go of something that is precious and that we love deeply. Sometimes the conflict we endure with our teenagers is because we haven’t yet built a loving and caring relationship with ourselves.