There is no doubt that for most families, the teen years present a challenge for both parents and children.
Middle School is not fondly remembered by most who attend. It is often fraught with scary body changes, bullying by peers and a new surge for independence. This leads to passive-aggressive behavior (“I’ll do it in a minute”), self-consciousness (“What are you staring at?”) and self-doubt (“I’m not good at anything.”) and/or over-confidence (“Well, I thought I could do that.”) and of course moodiness (“Leave me alone.”).
High School is usually better for most. It is a time to really begin defining one’s self and realistically contemplating the future. Skill development is accelerated to prepare for college or job training programs. Talents are perfected. Social skills are honed and relationships take on more of a serious nature. Peer pressure is at its max and in today’s teen society there are more tempting sidetracks than ever.
During adolescence, kids need their parents more than ever. Research shows that a positive family environment including fun family activities, open parent-child communication and the encouragement to participate in positive extracurricular and community activities, teens are able to navigate these years with relative ease.
Your child is changing so fast—in body, mind, and emotions—that you hardly know her anymore. One day she’s as responsible and cooperative as an adult; the next day she’s more like a six-year-old. Planning beyond today’s baseball game or slumber party is hard. One minute she’s sunny and enthusiastic. The next she’s gloomy and silent. Keep cool. These children are in process; they’re becoming more self-sufficient. It’s Independence Day!
What I’m Like: I’m more independent than I used to be, but I’m quite self-conscious. I think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer. I like to talk about issues in the adult world. I like to think for myself, and though I often feel confused, my opinions are important to me, and I want others to respect them. I seem to be moving away from my family. Friends are more important than ever. To have them like me, I sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of. But I still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, I’m more understanding and cooperative. I want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, if I’m mature enough I can often be by myself or watch others.
What I Need: I need to know my family is behind me no matter how I may stumble in my attempts to grow up. This growing up is serious business, and I need to laugh and play a lot to lighten up and keep my balance. I need you to understand that I’m doing my best and to encourage me to see my mistakes as learning experiences. Please don’t tease me about my clothes, hair, boy/girlfriends. I also need privacy with my own space and things.