“Teenagers are individuals with unique personalities and their own likes and dislikes. Some things about them are universal, though. No matter how much your teen seems to withdraw from you emotionally, no matter how independent your teen appears, or how troubled your teen becomes, they still need your attention and to feel loved by you.” — Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., helpguide.org
Parenting teenagers is full of challenges, which include learning to balance a teen’s need for independence and autonomy with a parent’s concern for safety and relationship. Arguments and conflict are normal, and how a parent reacts to a teen’s behaviour impacts both the teen and the parent-teen relationship.
However, some cases of teen misbehaviour are potential warning signs of deeper problems. These include: constant arguing, missing classes, violent behaviour, extreme changes in weight, self-harm, and drug or alcohol abuse.
We do not offer parents and teens a list of do’s and don’ts. Rather, we use an attachment and family systems model in therapy that is process- and skills-based. I also draw on our experience facilitating Connect© parent groups. Our approach is designed to help parents and teens gain more insight into their relationship and its strengths. Then they can discover what they need to do to improve it. We also try to help parents identify and support their teen’s needs and ensure healthy boundaries. A healthy parent-teen relationship empowers the teen to confidently explore the world while knowing that the parent is there for support.