Parenting a Teenager: Are you about to pull your hair out?

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Do you relate with any of these statements?

“I don’t know my daughter anymore. She’s turned into an emotional wreck overnight. I think she is bipolar. We used to have the best relationship; what went wrong? He wears his pants down to his knees and has a Mohawk. What do I do?”

First, give yourself a pat on the back right now and tell yourself “I am a good parent; I will do what it takes to help my child succeed; and, I love my child very much!” There is no doubt about it—these years can be painfully difficult. In spite of this, please know that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

Adolescence: It’s important to recognize the unique set of experiences occurring in this challenging stage of life

In navigating through adolescence, teens experience difficulties related to identity, school, relationships, and authority as they begin to define themselves as adults. Adolescence marks the beginning of significant emotional, social, biological, and intellectual changes. With all these changes taking place, it is normal for teenagers to try on different roles or masks to see what fits them. These different roles can include experimentation with morals and values, clothing styles, social groups, music preferences, religion, substances, and sexuality. For parents, this can be an exhausting time as your child’s mood is constantly changing and the arguments, silences, and boundary testing sets in, leaving you feeling frustrated and stuck. Although adolescence can be a trying time, it can also be a time filled with newness and excitement as you see your child journey from childhood to adulthood. Here are some practice steps you can begin to take today to help you and your adolescent have a better relationship.

Inform your teen—and stay informed yourself

Do not be afraid to address topics with your teen such as values, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, and sexuality. Create an “open door” policy with your child where they can come to you with any questions. Start the conversation about sexuality before you child goes through puberty. Keep it to the basics with menstruation, wet dreams, and sexual intercourse. A good time to bring up these questions is after their annual physical. You may want to ask other questions such as:

  • Are you noticing any changes in your body?
  • Are you having any strange feelings?
  • Are you sad sometimes and don’t know why?

Additionally, stay informed on what your teenager’s interests and hobbies are, ask them questions about their day, and have a respect for their individual personality.

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For more articles by Kelly Johnson, feel free to peruse her website at Kelly Johnson is the founding therapist with the Colorado Center for Healing and Change in Aurora, CO. Kelly sees people for a wide variety of issues, but has a special passion for empowering people with a strong sense of self esteem and identity which results in healthier relationships and families.

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