By: Kim Cameron-Smith
I recently became the mom of a teen. My oldest son is 13. I’m excited about these coming teen years, as I witness my darling boy maturing, growing closer to God, and finding his calling in life.
I’ve read about parents who dread the teen years. They see years of pain ahead. Fighting. Rejection. Disrespect. I read one mom’s account of her son’s teen years and it really caught my attention. He was a sweet kid until he was 14, then he became withdrawn and gloomy, offering only grunts to basic questions. She said that by 18 he was himself again. Is this sort of withdrawal and rudeness inevitable? I hope not.
Dr. Gregory Popcak writes in his Catholic attachment parenting book, Parenting with Grace, that the primary goals for our children during their teen years are:
- The search for identity,
- Developing a respectful separation from mom and dad,
- Fostering their own spirituality, and
- Dealing with sexual issues.
We need to ensure our teens have both the guidance and the freedom they need explore these goals and to respond to God’s unique call for their lives.
There’s a necessary tension in parenting the teen. We need to let go, but still hold on just enough to ensure the teen is more attached to us (his parents) than to his peers. In his groundbreaking book Hold On to Your Kids, Dr. Gordon Neufeld explores the danger of believing our culture’s message that it’s normal for a teen to become primarily identified with his peers, to find his identity and values in his peer culture. The teen’s parents must remain the go-to people for his sense of meaning even while he’s spreading his wings and defining himself apart from his parents.
Credit to Kim Cameron-Smith of Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner.