Raising a teenager is difficult for the best of parents, just as being a teenager is difficult for all teens, regardless of how easy a childhood they had. But these are the years when parenting needs to be done delicately. Watching your teen draw away from you can be hurtful and worrying but this is when your child needs that space, and you need to give it to them.
Once children are born, they get progressively more distant from their parents, growing their independence so that they can become their own people. Teenagers are the culmination of this. Teens need space to discover themselves as separate beings from their families. It is valuable growing space that you need to respect.
Though it’s hard to leave your teenager alone, especially as their behavior becomes more and more worrisome, you must create boundaries – for both you and them. This can be as formal or informal as you feel is necessary. Make sure they are aware that you will respect these boundaries that you’ve set for yourself. Consider giving your teen a say in the boundaries that they would like to see in place. Even if some of them are unreasonable, having this discussion should give you insight into what your teen is thinking, feeling and needing.
But don’t let go of your teen entirely. During this phase it can be tempting to just give up entirely once you’ve started down this path, but resist the temptation. Your teen, more than ever, needs to know that you love them and are there for them. This is a time when many risky behaviors take place and when your teen will test your limits.
Everyone needs space, but no one more than teenagers. As they’re slowly separating themselves from their family identity, they need room to discover themselves. Boundaries are important for giving teenagers their privacy but also important for safety and consistency. Let your teen know that they will have a little more space to themselves but don’t allow that to create a license for chaos.
The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively is a great resource for parents that provides an approach that will help them to openly communicate with their teen while allowing them to have the space they need to develop a sense of direction to successfully move toward increased independence.