How teens develop:
Forming a self-identity of their own, separate from their parents, is a necessary developmental step. Who they are, what makes them different, and how can they make it their very own is their search for a personal identity.
Their self-identity is made up of many parts: what they eat, how they dress, what they like to do, being introverted or extroverted, anxious or calm, and their body image. All of these – plus many more – form an individual self, separate from their parents.
When parents allow individuation the child/teen begins to grow and thrive. When parents micromanage and attempt to make little clones of themselves children atrophy, withdraw, and resign themselves to a stagnant state or they rebel and take off in one form or another.
As I work with teens I see many of them struggling to form an identity of their own. Often, parents insist they make choices that mimic theirs. As a result, the teen will struggle, become depressed and apathetic. They give up caring. Erik Erickson calls this “identity confusion”. This is the fifth developmental stage they must master to grow, mature, and thrive.
How can a parent help their teen? Show them warmth and respect, and avoid the tendency to be too controlling or too passive. Be genuinely interested in their lives. Allow differences. Model and display constructive ways of dealing with conflict and problems. Help them structure their time and lives. And remember: becoming an adult takes time, love, support and letting go of control. Allow them to make choices and be different from you.
Have a blessed day everyone. And tell your teen you love them through your actions.