As we raise our children, we become accustomed to their reliance on our advice, company, and wisdom. However, as they mature, they grow less attached to the idea of their parents being as present in every aspect of their lives. As difficult as this transformation may be, we must come to terms with the fact that our children are becoming independent teenagers. So, here are three ways to support your teen who wants space.
1. Recruit Backup
Wading through the waters of adolescence can usher in a whole new wave of emotions and parental challenges that you haven’t had to encounter. In times like these, it’s always nice to have sound advice from people who’ve been in your shoes. One of the best ways to support your teen is by building a support group for yourself. Seek parents of current teens, older parents, parenting books, or online/in-person support groups for advice. It’s easy to be unnecessarily reactive or overly concerned when you’re stressed because you haven’t been able to talk through all the changes coming your way. However, once you’ve recruited back up, things get easier.
2. Be Supportive
If your teen is requesting a bit of space, try to be supportive. Each family dynamic is unique, so “space” will look different in every household. But what is not unique, is every teen’s request for some form of “space.”
Teenagers may want space in the form of:
- Time to hang out with non-family members
- Freedom of self-expression
- Freedom to experiment
- Time to “figure things out”
As a parent, you can be supportive by, first and foremost, remembering what it’s like to be a teenager. By putting yourself in their shoes, you may be able to relate to their perspective. Next, find agreeable points that work for your family that you are able to grant. For example, you may be willing to let your teen: have more time with friends, dye their hair, and apply for an after-school job.
3. Don’t Disappear
The last way to support your teen is to stay present in the background. When some parents hear their teens say, “I want space.” they give them too much. Teenagers are still your kids. They still need guidance, support, and protection. No matter how much your teen pushes you away and requests privacy, make sure to stay informed. Always be aware of what your kids are doing online, who their friends are, where they are and what they are doing. Don’t disappear. Even though they look like adults and will try their best to convince you that they are capable of making adult-like decisions, your teens still need your wisdom.
Your kids will always need you. More importantly, your children will always love you. Although the teenage years may bring a few changes, nothing will change your role in their lives. So use these three tips to be the loving, supportive parent that your teenagers need and know that everything will be okay.