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Children Who Talk to Angels
What do you do when your child begins talking to some unseen entity? How do you determine if it's a psychic event, an imaginary playmate, or some sign of a mental health issue? You want to handle things in a way that is best for your child and...

Don't Make These 6 Mistakes When Your Child is Having Nightmares
Itís Tuesday 2:00 a.m. and you are awakened by your 4-year old daughterís blood-curdling scream. A motherís worst fear of someone hurting her baby is racing through your mind. You quickly throw the blankets off and stumble down the hall to your...

More than Mom and Dad
Love, love, love. It makes the world go round. It makes a family. So why does it seem the moment you have a baby, love, or at least your love life as you know it, goes right up in a cloud of baby powder? Letís face it, youíre tired, youíre...

Reshape The Family Diet -- Avoid Dinnertime Trouble/Cyndi Thomas, ND
Reshape The Family Diet -- Avoid Dinnertime Trouble by Cyndi Thomas, ND When I announced that my family needed to change its diet somewhat... well, to say my children weren't as excited as me would be an understatement. More than once they...

Using Music To Calm Your Baby
Music is a wonderful way for you to calm and soothe your baby, especially during the first year. How many times have your heard parents say that there was nothing that they could do with their crying, fussing baby until they tried music. This is...

 
Parenting Adolescents & Young Adults


Parenting adolescents can often feel overwhelming and downright impossible. Behavioral changes, mood swings, and our child's development of "an attitude" are a challenge to most parents in this universal transition. Who are these strangers who used to be our kids?

It helps to remember that adolescents are in transition from the role of child to the role of adult. It is an evolving process, with many tasks to be mastered along the way as they prepare to leave the nest.

The goal is for them to develop a sense of competence, autonomy, and personal identity, separate and apart from the family. (Aren't we glad that we, ourselves, don't have to go through that again?)

The first "fun" part of adolescent development is puberty. I don't know who finds it worse, the parent or the child. Suddenly your little innocent is shrouded in towels and bathrobes, keeping bathroom and bedroom door barricaded, and behaving as if he or she were the only human in the history of the world to develop such "gross" physical transformations. Their obvious task, at this point, is to become comfortable with their physical changes. Self-consciousness rules during this awkward time, as they must also begin the major task of separating themselves from the family.

Key to developing their own identity, adolescents enjoy doing anything different from Mom and Dad. They try on alternate selves like costumes (hopefully something you'll despise!) until they discover who the real "me" is. Try not to despair. Having what they consider to be an acceptable appearance feels critical to them as they begin their long journey. The process of maturation starts outward and turns increasingly inward until it is complete. If all goes well, this usually occurs between ages 18-22.

Behavior such as questioning authority is one way in which they learn to create their own interpretations and solutions to problems, rather then simply accepting adult explanations as they did when they were younger. The closed bedroom door and the blasting stereo are literal physical barriers, helping them process the normal developmental task of emotional and psychological separation. They're supposed to do this!

Teens must also learn to establish satisfactory relationships with peers. Learning cooperation, feeling comfortable in groups, and forming friendships lay the groundwork for future romantic and work relationships. As they move into the later teen years, adolescents begin looking outward, beyond family, friends, and self. They begin to develop a philosophy of life, a world view, moral standards, and a guiding belief. They begin looking toward the future. Educational and career goals take center stage at this time.

Throughout these stages, teens must learn flexible coping strategies and how to behave appropriately in different situations. Much as we might like to, we cannot prevent them from making our mistakes. Just as we had to learn from experience, so must they. But we can teach them how to make decisions, how to cope, how to behave. We do this by modeling (showing them, through example, how we do it). They will close their ears when we try to preach, but their eyes are always open, watching how we manage relationships and life. They miss nothing.

As teens grow and change, parents need to be fluid. The parents must be able to change their rules, parenting methods, and ways of relating, in order to encourage teen autonomy. And they must do this without


totally relinquishing parental guidance and control. If parents lose their control, the result is an adolescent who is out of control. The trick is to strike the proper balance between setting limits and allowing increasing independence at each stage of the child's developmental process.

The years of adolescence can be hard on all involved, but with love and careful guidance, the transition can be a time of growth for the whole family.

College kids and other young adults often have a really tough time during this period of transition. And so do their parents. Anxiety runs high for everyone now that its time to lay down a path toward the future. Parents want to be sure that the destination is visible, safe, and secure. Kids want time to figure out where they want to go.

It might help to know that the majority of people do not arrive into young adulthood with all their life decisions already in place. Now is the time when they have finally left the nest and are just beginning to spread their wings. That heady feeling of flight understandably distances them from the ground and the flight pattern is unpredictable. Parents, take heart. This is the normal life cycle developmental task of separating from the family. A simultaneous developmental task is creating a new, age appropriate connection with the family. It will all happen in due time.

Common issues for parents of young adults are:
Kids' financial dependence upon them while hearing declarations of independence.
The young adult who opts out of college.
Parental inability to let go, as evidenced by constant phone calls, visits, and worrying. This has the effect of clipping the bird's wings...
Conflicts when he or she makes brief visits home from college--so many people to see in so little time! What about us???
Re-adjustment to living together again during summer vacations.
Difficulty negotiating a new, age appropriate connection with the young adult.
Lack of control over the young adult can feel terrifying to some parents.


Common issues for young adults are:

All of the above...with the added challenges of forming new friendships, learning to have mature, intimate relationships, doing well in school or work, and establishing goals for the future.

If your child is not in school, you may feel like a failure. You are not, and neither is he or she. You do not ever want to convey that message because it will cause unimaginable damage to your child's soul. It will also become a self fulfilling prophecy. Which brings me to my favorite question, anyway: How do you define success? Does success mean acquiring wealth? I personally don't think so, but I'm in the minority. I define success as being my own authentic self (not what people or society expect me to be) doing work that I love, and living with someone that I love. It's that simple. And that difficult. But I can tell you that the people I know who agree with my definition of success, and make it happen, tend to be the happiest people I know.

About the Author

Maggie Vlazny is a Certified Stepfamily Counselor, Certified Imago Therapist, and Certified EMDR Therapist. Her practice is in Florham Park, NJ. This is a mother-daughter practice. As a team, they are able to combine their strengths to offer you the care most suitable to your needs. They offer comprehensive services to traditional and non traditional individuals, couples, and families.
www.therapyct.com


 

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