In a book by Lisa Damour, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, she describes that what teenagers need most is a wall. In other words, no matter what is going on with your teen or in your own life, as a parent, it is important that you are this impenetrable, unwavering, steady wall and they don’t have to navigate through tough issues on their own. What does that mean exactly?
You know how things are. Your teen is busy with classes at school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, not to mention their social obligations and you kind of feel like they don’t need you. Maybe they have their own support system with their peers and are too busy for mom and dad. However, it is important that you set your feelings aside and remain that “wall” to ensure your teen knows that you are there when they need you. As cited by Huffington Post, here’s what you need to do as a parent to ensure that you are playing this role for your teen and they know they can turn to you in times of need.
- Make sure you have your own support system. Maybe you turn to your spouse, your church or your own parents. Whatever your own “wall” is, make sure you are using that support so that you are able to offer the best support to your own teen.
- Know that your teen is going to distance themselves from you at times. Part of the teen years is your teen discovering their own independence. Don’t let these times cause you to waver. You still need to remain being the “wall” for when they are ready to turn to you.
- Find other walls for your teen. The pressure can be difficult to be the only wall of support for your teen. Enlist the help of other trusted adults like teachers, coaches, counselors, and faith leaders. These people can all offer your teen additional support and provide further perspective on the various life issues that are sure to come up for your teen.
- Be aware of your shortcomings. Watch out for your own tiredness and your own unhappiness or anger. It is hard to be your best for someone else when you are not at your best for yourself. Be aware of these times so that you don’t cause the wall to crack.
Remember that no matter what is going on in your life and that of your teen, it is important that your teen knows that you are always there to turn to for support and guidance for no matter what life throws at them.
If you find that you and your teen need additional support, the team at Doorways is here to help.