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Behaviours of parents during puberty of their children

For parents, the puberty of their children is often associated with as many difficulties as it is for the growing person. They are confronted with the feeling of letting their child go, to lose his confidence and to have no more control over his behaviour. On one hand, they actually want to let go, on the other hand, they are well aware, that they still have to set limits and make sure their child is in compliance with those boundaries. The difficulty for parents lays in the always and vastly changing behaviour of the young person. Therefore, it is somewhat difficult for the parents to find the right response to whatever behaviour the child is in at any given time. Mostly, parents resort back to a particular “pattern”. I want to talk about those patterns in the following.

The (too) strict parents

Many parents are not comfortable with the question of how much freedom they are willing to grant their teenagers during puberty. Therefore, most settle for the assumed safest way to communicate to the young person, that there are still strict boundaries and clear directions to be followed. Problems are almost inevitable. Parents need to accept that children and adolescents go through puberty their own way and, therefore, need a certain amount of free space. If the child is consistently regulated, it is “cheated” of the possibility to find his own way, develop a unique personality, form an own worldview and model for the future. Within this framework of parenting the young person gives up at some point. In response to the strictness of the parents they rebel. The consequences often are, the family breaks apart and has to confront some grave and unpredictable consequences.

Parents with a "too long leash."

If parents grant their children too much freedom during puberty, this too is overwhelming just as the too-strict parents are. Although some mean well and want to give their teenagers as much autonomy as possible, the truth is children and adolescents during puberty cannot make many decisions on their own yet. They still need the support and guidance from their parents. The paradox is, during this phase of the young person’s life, they want their independence, yet, if given no clear guidelines they will interpret this as their parents’ uncaringness and lack of interest. In extreme cases, the young person learns to feel worthless and redundant.

Parents who become allies

It is equally wrong when parents "partner" with their children during puberty. You see that in parents who all of a sudden wear the same designer cloth as their teen or go to the same disco, just to give two examples. The aim of the parent is to reduce the distance between them and the teen. However, more often than not they do not succeed. In most cases, the children are embarrassed when her parents present themselves in this manner and in particular in front of friends and other peers.

These are just three examples of the different parenting styles, parents may adopt during their children’s puberty. Generally speaking, each of these styles brings corresponding disadvantages. It is paramount to uncover such patterns of behaviour to work towards the right way of dealing with the young person on a day to day basis.

Next chapter: Youth work and puberty

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