Healthy Parent-Teen Relationships (Continued)
Written by Cedar Ridge Academy,
Posted on , in Section Behavioral Health
Failure to Live Up to Parental Expectations
A common complaint from teens is that parents “want me to be the way they want me to be.” In other words, many parents want a certain career, appearance or college for their teen. These parents experience varying amounts of disappointment and sometimes anger because their children fail to live up to the parents’ expectations.
Accepting teens as individuals who will have to make their own decisions about how to be an adult in the world can be extremely hard to do. But the healthy teen will grow up and do just that. Parents who reject their teen for failing to follow the parents’ plans or who reject some aspect of their teen’s life may find themselves painfully alienated from this person who they care about so much.
Easing the Parent/Teen Crisis
What are some ways parents can begin to break the cycle of disagreement with their teens? First, recognize that teenagers must become independent to become adult, just as they had to learn to walk and talk to grow from infancy to childhood. The first toddling steps away from the mother and the first “No, I won’t” are the beginnings of growth toward independence, the task of every healthy child.
If becoming independent is the task of children, then the task of parents must be to help their children reach independence by allowing them to walk (and fall), talk (and make mistakes) and slowly take control of their lives.
Parents should try to look at their roles in their struggle with teens. Sometimes it may require professional assistance to help parents see how they contribute to the struggle. Parents may need to learn new ways to struggle with their lives, rather than allowing the teen’s struggles for independence to get mixed up with their questions.
The changing parent/child relationship is bound to cause some problems and stress in all families. Parents can no longer control every part of their teen’s life, but they can keep the communication lines open and be a positive example for their teen to follow. The warmth with which mature parents speak of their relationship with their teens is evidence that the struggle to help and let children go is well-rewarded, for only then will they want to come back.