The teen years can be difficult, a no less for parents than for the teens themselves. There are many struggles for teens during the process of individuation, the act of physically and emotionally separating from parents. Some of these struggles are irritating for those sharing air space with the teen, and some are downright terrifying. It can be difficult for parents to tell when a certain behavior is considered normal teen and when it’s something to worry about.
When a teen crosses the line between normative struggle and dysfunctional, it’s time to get help.
Some things to accept as normal include:
- Rejecting parents’ value system, religious beliefs or traditions
- Insisting on privacy
- Choosing to spend social time with friends in place of family
- Loosing interest in younger siblings
- Prioritizing social life over school
Some things that should raise concern include:
- Suicide talk
- Drug use/ excessive alcohol use
- Failing grades
- Social isolation
So, what kind of help should you be getting?
Generally speaking, teenagers tend to prefer results-oriented therapies to feelings-oriented methods. They want the pain to stop as soon as possible, and that requires a strategic approach. At the same time, it is important for us as parents to validate the difficult feelings our teens are facing.
And as parents, we need support, too.