If you’re just joining us, we are reading the book Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. John Townsend. Go to the Reading Schedule if you want to start at the beginning.
We are covering chapters 9 and 10 this week. If you would like to join us, you can download the book for Kindle through my affiliate link: Boundaries With Teens and get started right away. Come back every Monday from now through the end of July, as we cover 2 chapters per week and discuss them in the comments of each week’s post.
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“You need to have the bigger and broader picture of the world you teen inhabits. Otherwise, you may not understand the person you are trying to help. To a teen, being understood is everything.”
Truer words have seldom been spoken, Anyone who lives with or works with teens has heard the litany of you-don’t-understand complaints. It just goes with the territory when you have teenagers, with good reason. They are going through a barrage of changes—
—All of which are leading to the adult phase of their lives. Every step, every crazy, emotional situation is leading them toward maturation. As stressful as it is for you, it can be even more so for them.
Adolescence is the transitional phase of life that connects childhood to adulthood.
Your teen is going through more changes, in a shorter period of time than any other in his life since toddlerhood. Some of these seem to be pointless and nothing but frustrating, both for the child AND the parent!
True, they can be frustrating, but pointless they are not. Every single change that he experiences right now has a purpose. Every one is preparation for something else.
You have noticed that your teen has probably become more attentive to the fairness (or rather UNfairness) of things. She can debate you up against a wall, which isn’t all that fun for you. She can piece together concepts that even a year or two ago were over her head, and draw accurate conclusions from them.
She can also switch from sweet to emotional or insanely crazy in 0.2 seconds. And yet there is a purpose to all of it. She is also capable of intelligently defending her ideas, whether they are right or wrong.
Some of the things we notice in our teens are often stark contradictions. They need boundaries (even want them) yet they want to be treated as adults. They seek the approval of parents, but seem to value their friends’ opinions over all. They know what they don’t like, yet won’t always express what they do, as if stating they like something is a commitment they will be forced to keep.
Contradictions and the teenage years are a package deal. You can’t have the teen without the conflicting beliefs because they are in the midst of figuring out what they believe, how they believe, and why. And it doesn’t always line up with the beliefs they have been raised with.
Don’t mistake your teen’s changing beliefs for poor parenting on your part. This is a natural progressive stage where your child is growing into an adult set of values and convictions. You went through this same stage, and so did I. If a teen is unable to separate herself from her parents during this time, she will have much more trouble doing so when she is college age.
These days the term delayed adolescence is tossed around, but it describes a real trend that has been increasing in recent years. These delayed adolescents are really adults, living as they were when they were teens, still at home, and still not taking full responsibility for their lives. It is seen in people as old as 30.
“Good parenting involves giving your teen the structure, consistency, and love she needs so she can successfully navigate all of these emotional and personal changes.”
Make a point to see your teen’s struggles for what they are: A necessary process that can be overwhelming for him at times.
Be available, be open, and don’t jump to conclusions about your child’s beliefs when he states an opinion, or over-react when he does something contrary. He is testing the waters to see what you believe (and why) and if that is what he believes. He is working through separating your beliefs from his own and developing his own adult outlook on life.
A healthy adolescent needs to go through this process, and it’s our job as parents to help him through it.
How have you been able to help your teen navigate the decisions? Where have you been lacking?
Next week we will talk about the difference between a teen who is separating the right way, and one who is pushing boundaries too far in the wrong directions. Join us!
Next week we will discuss Chapters 11 & 12