The Teen Years - A Push for Independence!

There is a time during the teen years when it all feels hard. There is a push-pull relationship between parents and their teens that can cause uncertainty, frustration, and tears (sometimes on both sides!).

Why are the teen years so hard?

Do you remember when you were trying to teach your child how to ride her bike without training wheels? At first, you ran alongside her, helping her get the feel for balancing the bike. She was scared and telling you, "Don't let go!" As much as she wanted to do this scary thing, she still needed you near. Of course, you had mixed feelings as well! You wanted to protect her and send her on her way to this next step of independence. You want to hold on and let go at the same time! The teen years are very much a replay of teaching your child to ride a bike. Your teen wants her independence so fiercely that she is yelling at you to “Let Go!” while you know the dangers out there are so much worse than falling off her bike and skinning her knee. Parents and teens alike are walking the tightrope of wanting to let go and hold on at the same time! So, don’t feel bad if you’re in conflict with your teen right now. You are not alone! The Shift I remember during my stay-at-home-mom years, it was easy for me to “read” the kids as they walked in the door. I could tell if they needed to talk or needed some downtime to decompress. As they hit their teen years, it became a bit more of a guessing game as they didn’t necessarily need me around, but they would still want to talk some things out...when they were ready. This is one shift from early childhood to the teen years: Kids want your attention on their terms! Instead of coming home from school and telling you everything about their day, they’ll give you tidbits of information, leaving details out that only their friends know. Early teens are discovering the joys of more independence. They are spending more time away from home with friends, in sports or other activities. Sometimes the only chance we have to chat with them is when we drive them to and from their destinations! I remember using those drives to check in on things while trying to avoid sounding like an interrogation detective. This is hard on parents because we know the dangers out there. Drugs, sex, drinking...the list goes on and on. One poor choice can send them down a path no one wants their child to experience. While kids will say, “I’ve got this,” parents are thinking, “If you only knew…” We see the danger their 15-year-old brains can’t possibly understand, yet they turn to their friends for advice. Additionally, parents feel like screens are more important to our teens than we are. I hate to say it, but in a way it’s true! Teens connect with their peers all day long through texting, Snapchat, online video game rooms, etc. With their eyes on screens all day long, teens don’t spend as much time just chatting with their parents. The Bottom Line... The need for independence is a tug-of-war parents and teens have done for generations! It is actually a replay of the “don’t let go/let me go” moments of teac