harnessing the most powerful force in nature –  adolescents

Adolescents, by nature, are often grumpy and difficult to deal with. How do you know if your adolescent needs help?

Look for

  • inability to function at an age-appropriate level
  • inability to succeed in age-appropriate challenges
  • lack of motivation to succeed
  • unusual levels of hostility toward parents or other family members
  • sexually acting out
  • excessive gaming or unusually high use of computers or other electronics
  • sudden change in peer group
  • refusal to go to class
  • dropping out of school
  • breaking the law
  • substance abuse or addictions – including process addictions (gaming)
  • suicidal ideation or attempts

We don’t counsel for perfection, but honest introspection can go a long way. Parents tend to overestimate their good parenting habits. Compounding this problem, parents underestimate a teenager’s dynamic personal and private life.

There are many competing forces of human development happening inside that morphing teenage body: psychological, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual. Parents who are prepared to understand each facet of this prism and continue to learn, be flexible, and not feel the need to control human nature, discover that parenting a teen can be just as much fun as parenting that sweet, snuggly 5 year old.

Parents must get comfortable hearing what they don’t want to hear. The more you listen, the more your kid will talk. If they know you’re safe and non-judgmental, your kids will seek you out when situations get too tough.

A word of wisdom: your teenager is not going to become that perfect image of you, no matter what oppressive consequences you have in store. Sorry.

And this is where therapy comes into play. For families nearing that tipping point of ‘everybody eats dinner in a separate room,’ and ‘one more screw-up and you’re packing for boarding school, kid,’ then consider using a therapist to corral the lost and surly members of your household back into the goodwill of a healthy family circle.