Letting go of your Teenager

When did your child become a teenager?

Was there a point when your mostly compliant little person started to become a sometimes surly teenager? 

For many parents, this transition marks some really significant changes for your teenager, the relationship you have with them, and the family as a whole. And with that transition can come a lot of uncertainty. Is this a phase? Why don’t they talk to me as much? Will they grow into the person I hope they can be?

Yet while this transition can bring with it challenges and difficulties, it also represents one of the most significant periods of physical, psychological, social and emotional growth. As your teenager acquires new and improved abilities to understand themselves and the world around them, you begin to see the personality they showed as a child mature and become more refined. They learn to think deeply about what is important to them, the benefit of strong relationships, the joy of pursuing a personally determined goal and the potential dreams for their future.

One of the biggest challenges that parents indicate they experience at this stage is the transition in letting go of some of the input and directedness they exerted when they were children, to being able to suggest and observe as their teenager takes steps along their own path. The gentle guide, the soft place to land and the (hopefully less frequent) rule enforcer are roles that parents transition to. For some, this is a fundamental shift in their parenting and it is important to reach out to others to talk this through, share stories and find some common wisdom that fits your family.

The Bottom Line

Teenagers are not as scary as they might appear. Deep down, they are still very much the child you have cared for day in, day out. While they may not be quite as affectionate as they used to be, your predictable, consistent love, care and attention are the secret ingredients to helping them become the adult you know they can be. 

Find the moments to positively connect with your teenager and know that the work that you put into that relationship is valuable beyond measure. 

Matthew O'Connor
St Peters Lutheran College