I can remember not long ago when my daughters would consume my every waking moment and I didn’t have a second to myself. As I longed for that Calgon moment where I could be alone and lost in myself, I was never prepared for what was to come in the teenage years.
As my girls started reaching past 13 I noticed them maturing not only physically, but emotionally too. They no longer wanted me to drop them off in front of the school, or kiss me goodbye in public, let alone hold their hand crossing the street.
My friends with older children assured me this was all part of growing up and maturity. I remember being worried about them as babies not sleeping through the night or having a cold I thought would turn into pneumonia, my friends would say, “If you think this is hard, just wait until she’s a teen.” Now as my daughter comes home from school, with a quick hello, she heads to her room and shuts the door, not to surface until dinner. I always heard this is how teens behave, but I swore that would never be us.
As personal as this may feel, this behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you. In fact, our teens are not trying to push us away at all. Rather, they are trying to push themselves away. They are working to get away from the familiar, from the safety of their home and family to a wider social world where they can show off their own personality and begin to develop their sense of self.
So that leaves us with, how can we keep our family connection strong? Always keep a line of communication open with your teens, let them know you are there with listening ears, rather than a lecturing tone. Keep them involved in family chores, such as cleaning, raking leaves and then jumping in them, shoveling snow and starting a snowball fight, these things and many more can all turn into a time of family fun and memories. All along you are working together as a team to get the job done, which in turn strengthens the family bond. Limit social media time and phones from interrupting dinnertime. Remember we are their role models so this goes for parents too. Involve your teens in extended family outings; keep them close to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It will take everyone to raise your teen into a caring, involved, mature, adult.
Therefore, empower your teen to find themselves by providing them with love, support and a sense of independence; it is possible for your child to push away and yet remain a close and connected teen. Empower them to be themselves by providing them with the tools they need to be confident, mature, independent, and communicative young adults. Therefore, remember the motto of many parents with teens: we are going through this together, and we’ll come out of it…together! Antoinette Price, Paraprofessional, Celebrate the Children
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.