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  • Writer's pictureKara Kohnen

Parenting Teenagers and biggest strategy revealed!

Being a teen is a challenging time for young people with the physical changes of puberty and emotional transformation. This is also a stage of development in which is it common to see the emergence of serious mental health conditions. For parents, it can sometimes seem like the child they used to know has become a different person. It often appears their friends have become more important to them than their family. But these changes are part of the essential process of moving toward independence! Parents who are able to offer more empathy than judgment can continue to be a huge and important source of guidance for their kids, and emerge from this period with their relationship intact. Admittedly, though, this is not easy. Conflicts between parents and teens are common, but just the fact that they have disputes doesn’t mean that a parent’s relationship with their child is weak or in jeopardy. Teens who feel comfortable enough with their parents to raise contentious issues may really be displaying how high a level of comfort and trust they have with them. And a parent willing to debate issue with a teen and not just demand obedience, is showing their child the respect they crave at this age. It’s tempting for parents to tell teens what decisions they should make but that can play right into teens’ instincts to rebel and distance themselves from home. Rather than setting unenforceable limits, parents who can listen attentively to kids can quietly and supportively help guide them toward the right decisions. Teens will often talk about what other kids do, or trends in their schools or peer groups, as a way to build trust with parents and sound them out about the consequences of certain choices or the dangers of concerns such as eating disorders or self-harm. As long as lines of communication stay open, parents can feel confident that, if things go wrong, their kids will still come to them for validation or support. Communication is the biggest parenting strategy we can recommend in the teen years. At therapists who work with teens, we have advantage of not being the parent whom a teen may be rebeling against and are uniquely equipped to help support teens in a positive way at a critical time in life. We want to thank all the families who have trusted us over the years and will be here to support teens and families in the future too!

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