Parenting teens – guiding them from childhood to adulthood – is a journey of many challenges with always a chance to turn failures into success, weaknesses to strengths.
While hormones, the struggle for independence, peer pressure, and an emerging identity wreak havoc in the soul of the adolescent, issues of how much autonomy to grant, how much “attitude” to take, what kind of discipline is effective, which issues are worth fighting about, and how to talk to offspring-turned-alien challenge parental creativity, patience, and courage.
To guide a child to adulthood, to ingrain values, to help negotiate social relationships, and to see new ideas, ideals, goals, and independence emerge in a child can be the adventure of a lifetime. Like any adventure, the thrill is in the journey.
Challenges conquered sweeten success, and while failure is in part unavoidable, no one can know how the balance of success and failure measures out until the journey is complete. As long as the journey continues, there is hope: a chance to turn failures into success, weaknesses to strengths.
Like any adventure, the challenges are unique to each traveler. Even the same parent will experience different challenges as each child is guided through adolescence. Because each journey is unique, there is no way to smooth all the bumps, anticipate all the challenges, or detonate all the land mines beforehand. However, there are aspects of the journey that appear to be universal.
Although teenagers will make their own choices, a good home life can increase the odds that kids will avoid many of the pitfalls of adolescence. Particularly, a kind, warm, solid relationship with parents who demonstrate respect for their children, an interest in their children’s activities, and set firm boundaries for those activities may directly or indirectly deter criminal activity, illegal drug and alcohol use, negative peer pressure, delinquency, sexual promiscuity, and low self-esteem.
Parents who give their teenagers their love, time, boundaries, and encouragement to think for themselves may find that they actually enjoy their children’s adventure through adolescence.
As they watch their sons and daughters grow in independence, make decisions, and develop into young adults, they may find that the child they have reared is – like the breathtaking view of the newborn they held for the first time – even better than they could have imagined.
- Family Strengths
- Flying Solo: Six Ways to Soar as a Single Parent
- Parenting Your Adopted Teen
- Help Your Teen Adjust to a Stepfamily
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Love, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown