In the beginning of parenthood, you put yourself aside to take care of your child’s basic needs. For without you, they wouldn’t survive. As they grow, both physically and developmentally, they gain increasingly control over their bodily and mind, decreasing the innate dependence upon parents that was initially needed. As they leave childhood and enter into adolescence, a shift in their needs occur; moving beyond direct resources, centering into self exploration, sense of identity, and moral character. Often during this time, the teens ides of “exploration” differs than the parents. So how do you create a balance, instilling limits and boundaries while validating the teens sense of exploration? Limits The intention of limits and boundaries within a family system is to instill a sense of values, morals and ideals that are a verbal expression of parental actions and beliefs. Note, it is important to keep in mind that your belief system may differ from that of your teen-especially when they are exploring their own identity. Limits do not need to be mutually agreed upon; rather they are a chain of reactions when ‘set into motion’; a set of known consequences when engaging in a certain action. One does not have to like them. From this point, behavior becomes a choice-along with the associated consequences. No Agenda Perhaps it is difficult to watch others fail; yet this is the moment of authentic learning. Robbing teens of the opportunity to fail (safely) restricts their exploration. Rather, if they are sheltered, they are given the false sense of perpetual security; promoting the idea that they will always succeed. Not matter the situations or amount of protection, we all experience failure one some level. Without experiencing self-repair, one may find it impossible to pick up the pieces. Teenage years do not need to be a period of parental tug-of-war. When we give slack, we get less resistance. When there is no sense of needing to defend a position, is the moment open exchange of ideals, beliefs, and personal growth (both for the parent and teen) can unfold; enriching the parent-teen relationship.
September 26, 2013