My baby’s become an adolescent! Letting go to reconnect

The teenage years. They’re inevitable. Gone are the days when your child was a tiny bundle who you could dress, play with, cuddle and coo with, and take wherever you needed to go. Now they’ve shot up like a beanpole, have their own opinions and many more words to share them with you (or not!), and are a lot more mobile.

As children grow into teenagers, parents often describe feeling like they no longer know who their child is, or how to connect with them. They say that they used to know what their child liked and didn’t like, that their child would talk to them about how they felt, and that they understood them. Now, it’s a mystery!

In these years, it’s so important to remember that your teenager is going through huge changes – the hormones, changing bodies, increasing awareness and societal pressure, navigating friendships and romances, not to mention the challenge of discovering who they are!

Regardless of whether it’s a child, teenager or adult, changes tend to be unsettling; as humans, we’re wired to react to unfamiliarity with increased apprehension, worry and fear. So if your teen isn’t able to connect with you the way they used to, explain where they’re heading, or how they’re feeling, it may well be because they don’t know yet!

Many parents can feel hurt as it seems that their teen is shutting them out. Parents’ worries for their children’s future can mean that they pressure them into the same path, or try and teach the lessons they learned. Often, these attempts can be met with resistance as the teenager can feel even more that their parent does not understand them or see them for who they are.

Rather than questioning or placing your own experiences and beliefs upon your teenager, it may help to give them some space and meet them with an attitude of acceptance and curiosity. Rather than interrogating or pressuring them to fit in to your ways, help them explore, experience and learn for themselves.

By meeting your teen where they’re at, and trying to connect with them on their level, your teen will experience that you are there to share with. You can do this by supporting their own process of exploration of their identity and experiences, in a non-judgmental way and supportive way. You can give words for the things they seem to be interested in and encourage their strengths. Let them have their own experiences and learn their own lessons, to learn who they are and their own strengths.

If your teen can experience that you support their exploration and are there to share it with them when they are ready, your teen will learn that they can continue sharing with you as they continue to grow through the stages of their life.

Of course there can be a few obstacles in learning to open up these gateways of communication, and in navigating this new and unfamiliar territory. If your teen seems to be struggling in this journey, or if you would like some help to connect, feel free to call Attuned Psychology on 8361 7008 or email [email protected] to explore some support.

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