Parenting adolescents can often feel overwhelming and downright impossible. Behavioral changes, mood swings, and our child's development of "an attitude" are a challenge to most parents in this universal transition. Who are these strangers who used to be our kids?
It helps to remember that adolescents are in transition from role of child to role of adult. It is an evolving process, with many tasks to be mastered along way as they prepare to leave nest.
The goal is for them to develop a sense of competence, autonomy, and personal identity, separate and apart from family. (Aren't we glad that we, ourselves, don't have to go through that again?)
The first "fun" part of adolescent development is puberty. I don't know who finds it worse, parent or child. Suddenly your little innocent is shrouded in towels and bathrobes, keeping bathroom and bedroom door barricaded, and behaving as if he or she were only human in history of world to develop such "gross" physical transformations. Their obvious task, at this point, is to become comfortable with their physical changes. Self-consciousness rules during this awkward time, as they must also begin major task of separating themselves from family.
Key to developing their own identity, adolescents enjoy doing anything different from Mom and Dad. They try on alternate selves like costumes (hopefully something you'll despise!) until they discover who real "me" is. Try not to despair. Having what they consider to be an acceptable appearance feels critical to them as they begin their long journey. The process of maturation starts outward and turns increasingly inward until it is complete. If all goes well, this usually occurs between ages 18-22.
Behavior such as questioning authority is one way in which they learn to create their own interpretations and solutions to problems, rather then simply accepting adult explanations as they did when they were younger. The closed bedroom door and blasting stereo are literal physical barriers, helping them process normal developmental task of emotional and psychological separation. They're supposed to do this!
Teens must also learn to establish satisfactory relationships with peers. Learning cooperation, feeling comfortable in groups, and forming friendships lay groundwork for future romantic and work relationships. As they move into later teen years, adolescents begin looking outward, beyond family, friends, and self. They begin to develop a philosophy of life, a world view, moral standards, and a guiding belief. They begin looking toward future. Educational and career goals take center stage at this time.
Throughout these stages, teens must learn flexible coping strategies and how to behave appropriately in different situations. Much as we might like to, we cannot prevent them from making our mistakes. Just as we had to learn from experience, so must they. But we can teach them how to make decisions, how to cope, how to behave. We do this by modeling (showing them, through example, how we do it). They will close their ears when we try to preach, but their eyes are always open, watching how we manage relationships and life. They miss nothing.