Storm and Stress

eyerollingAh, the teen years. The time when your child always has to have the last word; when you observe that she is in constant angst, and of course, when you regularly get the classic eye-rolling with major attitude. You love your child more than anything, I know. But something’s different, right? Parents often wonder What happened to my sweet little boy who used to love to snuggle? or What happened to my affectionate little girl who used to think that I was the smartest, coolest person in the world? The famous Mark Twain quote accurately reflects how perspectives change during adolescence:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Around the time that your child begins the second decade of life, things start to change in a fairly dramatic way. She is entering the developmental period that has been coined the time of “Storm and Stress.” Adolescence is a time of important transitions for both the child as well as the parents. Some tell-tale signs that your child is transitioning from childhood to adulthood include: Pubertal development, accompanied by obvious physical and biological changes; Cognitive development, where teens really start to think differently and begin to challenge the way others think and act; and Social development, where teens make decisions on who they spend their time with and how they want to define themselves. The purpose of this blog is to help parents navigate some of the issues that come up during this exciting and sometimes difficult time. Here are some examples of issues that we’ll discuss on this blog:

  • I love my son so much. But now with no public affection to be tolerated, how can I still show him I love him? He still needs me and I want to help, but how?
  • How do I manage conflict with my teen, and how do we stay close? Does she even like me anymore?
  • Who are these crazy friends he is choosing and will they lead my son astray? Will he fall to peer pressure and do bad things?
  • My daughter thinks she’s in love. How does she even know what love is?
  • The “S” word: I’m not sure, but I think my son is having SEX. This scares me to death..what if he gets an STD? Or worse, what if he makes me a Grandma?? How can I deal with this?
  • I know it’s a normal thing to be curious about alcohol and drugs, but how do I manage this without pushing too far?
  • Letting go: My son is going off to college and I’m feeling so sad. I don’t want to be one of those over-reactive moms but I feel like I’m an emotional mess!

Side note: I write these blogs mostly from my perspective as a parent, and not necessarily as a developmental psychologist. Although I do interject some information based on current research, my goal is to relate to other parents of teens and possibly shed some light on issues that we all struggle with. I look forward to hearing from you!    -Sara