I see teenagers, young adults, and their parents, in my office more and more often. To the parents of late teenagers their children are just that: children. And of course to the teens themselves they’re “almost grown.” The young adults feel “free” yet sometimes not at ease in their new freedom. It seems this has always been the push and pull of transitional age teens and their families as they try to come to terms with the growing independence combined with an often lagging maturity. As parents and teens chafe against each other in this age-old struggle, there may be one very important aspect of the struggle that gets lost: there is not much more time for either the parents or the teen to get the best possible from the time that is left in their interdependent relationship. Parents could benefit by remembering that young people will need to grow into independent adults… it’s what we actually want for them. And they can best contribute to that by easing parental controls gradually yet steadily, giving the transitioning teen an opportunity to experience themselves and the world around them with ever increasing autonomy while they are still in the parent’s home. That way the parent can witness and applaud their successes and, importantly, witness and help to correct their mistakes while the teen is right there and can still be influenced. Once away from home, whether in college or living and working on their own, the transitional age teen must immediately become a young adult. All to often they’ve had very little practice, and almost no guidance in this new world. No more curfew, no more mandatory house chores, no more restrictions on boys or girls in their room… just sudden limitless possibilities. It’s no wonder that so many lose their way, and eventually find their way back home, much to their and their parents’ quiet dismay, and not infrequently into my office.
Yes, the world may seem, and may actually be more complicated and even more dangerous than it was when parents were in their teenage years, but still, your own teens must learn and grow and adapt to the world they are inheriting, and the more skillfully they can adapt the more successful they will be. So parents, start coaching… NOW. Which means your teen has to be in the game!