For most parents, knowing what to do as your child grows up often proves a difficult challenge. Who thinks about that? When you’re holding that tiny little bundle in your arms, it’s impossible to think of them as anything else.
In fact, most parents tend to think of their kid as “their baby” no matter how old they get. And sure, to a certain degree, this is true. No matter how old your child gets, you’ll always be their parent. And that’s a relationship that can’t ever be broken. However, as your kids get older, the reality is that your relationship with them and their relationship with the world around them is going to change dramatically.
After all, when you’re raising a baby or a child, you’re the one who is always guiding them. As they grow older, it’s actually pretty common for both parents and children to start to feel lost at sea when trying to navigate the challenges that come along with it.
In order to help you navigate that experience, here are some challenges you may come to face as your child starts to grow up:
A Desire for Independence
The most critical and obvious thing that most young people start to demonstrate as they get older is a desire for more independence. Your kids may have once wanted to spend every second of every day at your heels, but as they get older, the idea of their own space and time for themselves becomes increasingly important.
An impulse that a lot of parents have is to worry about this, because it seems like there is suddenly a vast gulf of distance between them and their children. But in reality, this is just a normal part of growing up. It’s always a mistake to let the desire to be close to your child get in the way of their development.
The key is to know when to give your child the space that they want/need, and not to fall into the habit of trying to smother them. If you do that, they’re just going to end up feeling resentful towards you. If you give them the space they need, they will still make the effort to come to you.
An Impulse to Rebel
Kids rebel. Especially teenagers. This is just something that you’re going to have to come to terms with. In the same way that a toddler will test the limits of the rules, so do older kids. Though it’s often a lot scarier when older kids do it because it tends to be rebellion in much more drastic ways.
The trouble is that teenage rebellion often coincides with a discovery of the trappings of the adult world. Suddenly, they’re discovering things like drinking and partying, and they know that it’s a grown-up thing to do, but also that it’s somewhat forbidden. This can be an incredibly difficult needle to thread because it’s about striking the balance between setting clear boundaries and not being so overbearing that you accidentally encourage their desire to rebel.
The key to all of this is trust. Even if your teen makes mistakes (which they will), you have to trust they’re still taking care of themselves. And of course, they need to be able to trust you, that even when they do mess up, you’re still going to be there when they need you.
Significant Emotional Issues
We all know that stereotype of the mopey teen who hates everything and doesn’t want to get out of bed. Well, the truth is that there’s often a lot more to it than that.
For one thing, being a teen can actually be a pretty miserable experience for a lot of kids. After all, they’re trying to navigate a more adult world with adult responsibilities, but they’re still treated like children. Combine that with their hormones going wild, and you’ve got a pretty potent cocktail on your hands.
However, if things seem even more severe, it’s worth looking into the possibilities of things like depression. That’s a scary idea for a lot of parents but there’s plenty of fantastic teen depression treatment out there. Being able to talk to your kids about this kind of thing is essential to being able to support them. Remember, being a kid is tough, and just because we as adults might have forgotten that, doesn’t invalidate what your kids go through.
Pressure to Grow Up
Tension arises in teens when they’re torn between wanting to still be kids and feeling obligated to act like adults. This can often leave both parties feeling incredibly frustrated. When this happens, you want to talk to them and figure out how you can both create the best balance. Whether that means offering a greater degree of freedom or letting them take on more significant responsibilities in life, helping ease your child into adulthood is one of the most important things a parent can do.
Of course, it’s important to remember that although these things might be challenging, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad. The truth is, a lot of these actions are not only positive steps in your child’s life, but essential ones. The teen years are always going to be tough on everyone but the reality is, many of the things that they go through during that period are essential as part of their development towards adulthood.
One of the most important things you need to remember is not to beat yourself up during this challenging period. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make the effort to communicate with your kids and keep the relationship strong, there’s no doubt you’re going to come out the other side with a stronger bond than ever before.