By Irada Yunusova
Teenage years are a classic period of struggle for adolescents and parents. Between social and academic pressures, individuals are forced to make decisions that they may not feel entirely comfortable making. Although the human brain is not considered fully developed until approximately 25 years old, teenagers are held accountable for their decisions. For a parent, it may be difficult to find a balance between providing a teenager with freedom or assistance. Compassion and understanding may be key for working through issues and pressures together.
In order to better understand how to help your son or daughter, it is important to first understand what he or she is going through. Beginning in Middle School years, teenagers may come into contact with drugs and alcohol, regardless of their friend groups. Sexual pressures also arise, even in the form of advances from friends. Although it is impossible for a parent to make his son’s and daughter’s decisions, it is important that there is a safe, open environment at home that facilitates honest discussion of issues. In the 21st century, teenagers are also constantly exposed to social media, and it is important that they understand social media privacy and safety issues. Parents are encouraged to remain understanding, but to set fair boundaries, such as “no texting during dinner.” The life of a teenager may be complicated by technology and drugs, but discussion and trust are important tools.
Teenagers also feel numerous pressures from academics, clubs, and work. Teens may feel as though excellence is demanded and anything sub-par is simply inadequate. According to recent studies, the average teenager chooses paid work over studying, even if they are not dependent on that extra income, and chooses technology over sleep. Parents can assist their sons and daughters with time management, providing them with the freedom to make their own decisions within certain confines.
It seems as though open communication is at the heart of most solutions for dealing with teenagers, however communication can be a challenge in itself. It’s suggested to “just listen and sympathize.” Parents also have to remember that even if their teen seems to roll their eyes, slam the door, or rebel in some way, they still need his or her parents. Gaining independence is a part of growing up, and sometimes distancing oneself from parents is required. However, compassion and unconditional love will ensure that he or she will come back to you when they need advice, attention, or simply love.
If you are finding communication with your teenager challenging, feel free to contact Arista Counseling & Psychological Services at 201-368-3700 to set up an appointment with a mental health professional in Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY.