The period of adolescence consists of lots of new experiences, mixed adventures, and learning opportunities. Teenagers go through many different transitions and emotional states that lead them to feel alienated through this journey, which can sometimes lead to a gulf between the teenagers and their parents.
The most challenging part is rapid changes in the vital areas of life in almost every sector. These challenges can be perceived as an opportunity for adventure or a storm of stress, depending on multiple factors. Some of these rapid changes include:
Physical changes during puberty may include increased height and weight, secondary sex characteristics, muscular composition changes, etc.
During this period, emotions may run higher and slightly more intense than other periods of life. Sudden and random mood shifts may also materialize. It may result from the body getting used to all the new hormones, amongst other reasons. There is additionally an increase in self-consciousness.
Abstract thinking, perspective development, metacognition, changes in beliefs, advanced reasoning skills, personal fables are some of the characteristics of thinking during this period.
There may be an increased sense of independence and responsibility, identity development, exploring sexual preferences, etc.
What kind of difficulties can teenagers face?
Due to the nature of this challenging period, many difficulties arise that a teenager comes across. Some of these include:
Sensitivity to others:
An adolescent may feel increased sensitivity towards others and others’ opinions. It can be a result of the ongoing process of questioning one’s identity and self. While adolescents engage in figuring out who they are and their beliefs, they may sometimes feel quite sensitive to others’ opinions.
Owing to all the rapid changes, they may become quite conscious of their appearance, image, identity, beliefs, etc.! They may engage in comparing themselves to others. It can be quite an anxious and upsetting experience. It may feel even more nervous in cases where their immediate social circle (i.e., family, friends, religious community) resorts to comparing them with others.
It is a significant component of the difficulties faced and can be a source of anxiety, stress, and confusion during this period.
Varied experiences in the social world outside:
As the focus of relationships shifts from the family to building more connections outside the family, an adolescent faces a mixed bag of experiences. They may experience it in the form of first relationships, mentorship with teachers, forming deep bonds with their friends, heartbreaks, losing connections, etc.
It is common for individuals to feel alienated and alone, despite building new bonds during this period. It is usual to feel this alienation with family members. Moreover, a sense of being misunderstood and alone can materialize quite commonly.
What makes this period hard for parents?
These sudden shifts don’t just affect the adolescents but also impact the parents and other family members.
A shift in focus:
Adolescence can be a difficult transition for the parents to go through because the focus shifts from parents to the outside world for the first time in years of their child’s life. Their child’s attempt at seeking more independence and space can turn into a slightly rocky transition for many parents.
It is widespread for parents and adolescents to have differences in opinions and disagreements. However, in some cases, these disagreements can lead to inappropriate behavior on either or both ends. It can also result from influences of problematic circles that the adolescent might be interacting with their parents. Stressful school environments and studies can also manifest as behavioral issues in some cases. The reasons for such occurrences are plenty.
Difficulty in detaching:
Some parents find it difficult to separate from their kids’ lives and give them a healthy amount of independence necessary for growth as it can be a somewhat lonely process.
Opposition to function on their terms:
The increasing resistance and opposition that adolescents begin to show towards their old ways of functioning and living can be a little tiring for the parents to deal with and often lead to disagreements.
Facilitate a better relationship!
Have an open-minded attitude towards change:
Change is the only constant element of life. Having a more relaxed attitude towards things changing and focusing on turning them into a positive change can help.
Turn home into a safe space:
Make your home a non-judgmental, open-minded, caring, and supportive space where the members can engage in healthy communication.
Here’s a tip: Sharing perspectives can be constructive in keeping disagreements at bay.
Setting appropriate boundaries:
Setting appropriate boundaries, both as a parent and as an adolescent, would be very helpful in communicating expectations and respect on both ends.
Talk about the uncomfortable topics:
It is a phase where teenagers have many questions about sexuality, body image, substances, emotions, relationships, sex, etc. Being open and facilitating these conversations helps teenagers get some more clarity, support and builds more mutual trust.