Adolescence is a time for change. Many changes occur during adolescence developmentally. These include changes in the body, the brain, and in emotions. These changes allow for our children to be able to launch into adulthood prepared to be successful in life. As parents, we need to recognize that our children still need us but our role in their life begins to change. Often we fail to recognize that developmentally, they are starting to want to make their own decisions about their life. They are perhaps seeking ideas or suggestions for us rather than having us tell them what to do or solve their problems for them. Sometimes they are just looking to tell us how they are feeling about a problem and get validation, not a lecture on how to solve it for them.
As I explain to adolescents, it’s sometimes difficult as a parent to know when to switch the “taking care of” button off. We are so used to taking care of, thinking about, and being responsible for our children as they come into this world because we have been their primary caregivers from birth. We had to take care of all their needs as infants. It’s our job to keep them safe and secure. But developmentally, we don’t have an “off” button that occurs for us the way the adolescent has for his/her desire to leave the nest and start exploring life for themselves. We have to find that balance of still being in protective mode, but begin to start allowing them to learn how to solve their problems and think through situations on their own. If there is one observation I have made in the last 25 years of working with families, it’s that children today often don’t develop the problem solving skills they are going to need in life. They also lack the confidence in themselves to enter adulthood, feeling anxious and uncertain that they can handle what life may deliver them. By allowing them to learn how to solve their own problems while still at home, will help develop these skills and give them more confidence in themselves while they are still safely at home. Always keep in mind our job, as I see it, is to “Prepare the Child for the Path, not the Path for the Child”.