While walking through feelings of uncertainty and chaos with our teens, we may question the value of the once-important family unit in their lives.
Those darling doe-eyes that once held nothing but love for you as their esteemed hero now glimmer with contempt as they glare from across the room.
The bone-rattling sigh hisses through a pair of pursed lips after you ask about their day.
Was it too much? Is it best to just let go?
Just how does the family fit in with this new era in your child’s life?
Who is this Child of Mine?
The teen years are a perfect storm of physiological, social and emotional change all taking place in an, arguably, short period of time.
In an effort to understand the complexity of this season in your teen’s life, it might be helpful to harken back to your own years of teen growth.
Remembering your own transition with authenticity will give you some needed fuel to empathize with your own child.
If you need some help recalling those pubescent years, check out this fun 1955 McGraw Hill Films video explaining some of those physiological changes in puberty as there are many afoot.
Your Child is not a Butterfly
Although it may seem your teen has disappeared into an invisible chrysalis of peers and electronic gadgets, be assured the covering is not impenetrable, nor does your teen want it to be.
Unlike the mighty Monarch who benefits greatly from his time of struggle beneath his sturdy casing, development from childhood to adulthood relies greatly on the strength of the family.
Care to see what’s going on inside this invisible covering?
This video by SciShow gives a good look into this angsty inner workings of the teen brain.
While your teen may want to demonstrate a confident outer appearance, inside it’s likely they don’t have it all together. They may feel uncomfortable about the way their body looks, their skills and abilities, and how they fit in with their peers.
Not only that, the strain of preparing to launch into college or the working world may have them feeling less than adequate or prepared for the journey plaguing their not-yet-fully-developed-brain with fear and stress.
Although your teen may look more adult than child, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control won’t fully develop until about 25 years of age. The desire for peer approval can sometimes be met with the tough decisions, especially when dealing with drugs, alcohol or promiscuity.
Therefore, when met with opportunity for risky behavior, such as drug or alcohol use or promiscuity, they aren’t yet fully equipped to execute thoughtful responses to dire situations.
Because of that, family can be a critical source of modeling good and thoughtful behavior.
For more information on teens and drugs, visit our article: How to Tell if Your Teenager is Doing Drugs and What to do About it.
Setting the Stage for the Future
This time in your child’s life is also important in shaping their sense of identity. The age-old question, “what do you what to be when you grow up?” is moving from the dream stage into the action phase.
One YouTube video interviewed several teens to find out how their view of self-played into their future plans. The overarching sentiment was the same. Family plays a role in developing their self identity.
Although you may feel a little confused while taking a virtual-reality hop back to your own adolescence years, you can rest assured the family members individually and as unit still play a key role in your teen’s life.
Having a deeper understanding of what’s transpiring beneath the surface and reminding yourself that this too shall pass are helpful tools to remain in control during the chaos.
Giving your teen a foundation of love and guidance will serve them well while they struggle to grow adult wings as well as impact their future flight in the world.