Overcoming adolescence together: an empathetic guide for parents

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By Mary Dubois

Adolescence, this pivotal period between childhood and adulthood, is often compared to a tumultuous crossing at sea. Parents, like adolescents, are sometimes tossed by the waves of emotions, changes and challenges that suddenly arise. I still remember the first time my own daughter, then 14, slammed her bedroom door, leaving behind the scent ofmutual incomprehension. I found myself perplexed by this behavior that I hadn't seen coming, wondering if I was doing something wrong.

Navigating the Changing Waters of Adolescence

The first thing to realize, as a parent, is that adolescence is a time of profound transformation. The body changes, hormones fluctuate, and the brain itself goes through a major reorganization. Adolescents experience emotional upheavals and identity issues which can lead them to feel misunderstood, isolated or in permanent conflict. The good news is that these transformations are normal and that with appropriate tools, parents can help their children navigate these choppy waters.

It is essential to start with understand the source of these crises. Adolescents seek to establish their independence, to discover who they are outside the family cocoon. However, this quest can be tinged with confusion and frustration, because they do not always know how to express their needs or their emotions. My daughter was often anger for no apparent reason. It was only after several open discussions that we understood that she was stressed by her school results and the social pressure.

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adolescence guide

Promote listening and communication

One of the cornerstones of parental support during adolescence is active listening. Teenagers need to feel heard and understood without judgment. This involves putting down the phone, turning off the television and tuning in. total attention to your child when it opens. When my daughter finally decided to talk to me about her concerns, I did my best to listen without interrupting, offering only words of comfort and encouragement. It may seem simple, but the quality of this listening opened the door to deeper conversations later.

It is also essential to adopt a uncritical language. Teenagers are sensitive to comments that may seem accusatory or condescending. Instead of saying, "You never get your homework done on time," try, "I've noticed you seem stressed about your homework." How can I help you ? ". This approach shows that you are there to support, not judge.

Maintain caring boundaries

Adolescence does not meanlack of rules, but rather an adjustment of the limits to respect the growing desire for independence. Teenagers often test boundaries, not necessarily to challenge authority, but to understand their own freedom. When my son started asking for more nights out, I realized I needed to find a balance between protection and freedom. Rather than outright bans, together we set reasonable return times and discussed consequences for violations.

Boundaries must be clear, consistent and explained. Imposing a rule without explanation can be seen as arbitrary. When a teen understands the reasoning behind a limit (like the importance of getting enough sleep to succeed in school), they are more likely to respect it.

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Cultivate self-esteem

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to social comparisons and doubts about themselves. Encouraging a positive self-image is key to helping them navigate this time. This can be done by recognizing their efforts and successes, however small they may be. I remember my son, who struggled in math class, but excelled at drawing. Rather than focusing on his math shortcomings, I encouraged him to pursue his passion for art, which strengthened his faith in him.

Endorsing your teen's passions and interests, whether it's sports, art, or science, can give them a sense of accomplishment and a positive outlet.


Be a model of resilience

Adolescents learn a lot by observing the adults around them. Show them how to deal with stress, resolve conflicts and face challenges with resilience. If you make mistakes (and you will), own up to them and show how you learn from them. The day I forgot a promise to my daughter, I apologized and we talked about it openly. It strengthened our relationship and showed him that even parents aren't perfect.

Seek help if needed

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the situation can get out of hand. Behavioral problems, depression or anxiety require professional help. Parents should not hesitate to seek out a external support if their teenager shows signs of distress persistent. There is no shame in asking for help from a family therapist or a school counselor.

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I remember a friend who, after months of constant clashes with her son, decided to consult a family psychologist. This approach not only helped her son better manage his emotions, but also allowed the whole family to communicate more effectively.

The secret: love, patience and support

Ultimately, adolescence is a storm that eventually calms down. Crises, arguments and misunderstandings are part of the process. But with love, patience and support, parents can help their children get through this time and emerge stronger and more united.

The key lies in staying present, even when doors slam and words overtake thoughts. Be the stable anchor in the your teenager's inner storm. And remember, just like waves, crises always subside. One day my daughter came out of her room and said, “Dad, I think I was a little harsh on you earlier.” It is in these moments of reconnection that we realize that, despite the turbulence, the family boat is still moving in the right direction.

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