OPINION – I thought about writing this article as an opportunity to answer questions for parents who may be struggling with raising their teenage child in the midst of raising self. As a parent, we appear to see our role as the protector, overseer, and provider. Our authentic self seems to want what is best for our children independent of which stage he/she may be. Teens seem to have the understanding that at this phase of their lives, one is to seek-self and individuate from the family system while in the core of his/her existence.
As the teen develops his/her identity, the parent may become dysregulated, in other words overwhelmed with discontent. We, as parents, seem to want to tell him/her all the ways to solve life, understanding that we cannot. This is our struggle, yet the ultimate struggle of love!
As the parent takes on the role as the protector, the teen may be in a self-seeking mode, experiencing life in an unsafe manner in the eyes of the parent. Self-seeking can include being influenced by his/her cohort, television, technology and other stimuli separate from the protecting spirit of his/her parent.
As a provider, there may be feelings of resentment when the teen expresses self negatively toward the parent, choosing not to show gratitude for all that has been done for self by his/her provider. The parent again, is left to feel dysregulated by the behaviors of his/her teen.
As the overseer, the teen may appear to be irritable with the audacity of his/her parent attempting to “control” his/her life. Not determining such a role as a sign of love and caring role of his/her parent. At this point, both the parent and the teen seem dysregulated.
The solution to dysregulation is regulation, a sense of grounding and contentment. Let’s talk about the solution of maintaining a sense of contentment even when the environment seems vague and difficult.
During such moments of ambiguity and struggle, teens appear to respond positively when having the ability to step out of their role as a teenager and recall previous stages of their lives they may have overawed. There is something about seeing a picture of self at a youthful stage and being able to share that experience with the parent(s). Childhood stories give the gift of life’s validity.
There is something about the authenticity of someone knowing self when the teen is in the heart of discovering his/her own existence in this phase of life. This moment seems to be an achievement of a balance of the genuine person and teen’s self-discovery. Listen and allow for regulation for both the parent(s) and teen!
When a child starts to achieve adulthood which some parents may see as disrespect or their child trying to grow up too fast. From a child’s perspective, this is them trying to find themselves or trying to establish how they want to live their lives. Parents view this in many different ways, because all children are not the same.
These situations may be against what the parents see as the right passage for the child, but not all the right passages are the right passages and sooner or later that child will realize what is right and wrong. Children or adolescents are into doing things on their own now and some parents from an older generation may not get that, and it could put some strain on their relationship.
The parent sometimes will have to understand and take into consideration that the child or adolescent does things for themselves so they can grow for themselves, and that may take the child a few tries but they will understand sooner or later.
By Alondra Thompson
Alondra L. Thompson, LCSW specializes with those dealing with unexpected birth outcomes. Ms. Thompson’s interventions include Trauma Resiliency Model and Motivational Interviewing. She works at a community clinic in Yolo County, and has a private practice in Sacramento. As a member of the Multicultural Counseling and Consulting Associates (MCCA), she provides consultation services to community-based organizations, schools, universities, and other public and private institutions.