Teens are at an odd stage of life. They want to move ahead into their adulthood. At the same time, they can hang onto their childhood. This is commonly seen in the behavior of adolescents. For instance, teens will attempt to pull away from parents, and instead they will seek their sense of identity through friends and social groups. Yet, at the same time, the need for parental love and acceptance is still there. And that’s where parents can provide their support. Regardless of whether teens struggle with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, they will need the acceptance and unique support of their parents to get through the challenges of adolescence.
Common issues that arise in adolescence include:
Underage Drinking – There are many health risks that are associated with early drinking. When teens begin to drink they are vulnerable to addiction and relapse, as well as to psychological illness, including depression.
Peer Pressure – Peer pressure is often the most stress producing experience for a teen. Yet, it’s been found that resilience is a psychological quality that can assist teens in curbing peer pressure, knowing when to make the right choices, and avoiding risky behavior.
Bullying – When teens are faced with knowing that being different from their peers could bring consequences, such as bullying, it could squelch their need to find their identity, to play with their own creativity, and to deepen their strong need as a teen to discover the uniqueness of who they are. Sadly, the amount of bullying that goes on among teens runs the gamut from minor teasing to losing lives.
Smoking – Although more and more teens are opting not to smoke, depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, making depressed teens vulnerable to smoking. Research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed teens and adults engage in as a way to self-medicate. Learning this can perhaps encourage teens to find another, healthier way to feel better.
Body Issues – It’s common for teens to discuss what they would like to change about themselves, whether it’s losing weight, changing their hair color or even having plastic surgery to correct what they believe to be a flaw.
To support your teen through these common issues, stay in close relationship with them. Although it might not seem apparent by the way that adolescents behave, teens want to be known by their parents. As mentioned above, it’s normal for a teen to pull away from their parents in an effort to find a sense of self and identity. However, that doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t continue to need you. Although they might appear as though they do not want you to butt into their lives, beneath that want to be able to share their fears and joys and aspirations. In fact, a good part of your teen is still a child, and he or she continues to rely on your parenting despite his or her tendency to pull away. More importantly, your teen still needs your presence and participation in their lives. Teens want to be seen, known, and understood. For parents, the challenge is doing this gracefully, almost so smoothly that a teen doesn’t really catch on that their parent is trying to create a better parent-teen relationship.
Another part of the teen-parent relationship to understand is that teens tend to perceive the world through emotionally charged lenses. It’s the adolescent changing brain that tends to turn life into a range of emotionally filled experiences for them. The adolescent brain is undergoing incredible growth. In fact, the more parents understand the ebb and flow of their child’s energy, the better they will cope with their teen’s emotional life. Furthermore, rather than the typical trepidation with which some parents approach a teen’s emotional life, they can instead facilitate the explosion of creativity and life that the adolescent brain is experiencing.
As much as possible, parents should do their best to maintain a positive and supportive relationship with their teens. Doing so can facilitate the growth of their self-worth and the strengthening of their self-confidence. Teens can avoid pitfalls when faced with the above issues by believing in who they are. And parents can support this self-confidence by through acceptance, love, and genuine care for their adolescents.