Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Surviving the Turbulent Teens

Sarah Chana Radcliffe M.E.D., C. PSYCH ASSOC

Teenagers, as their parents will quickly tell you, are not simply older children. They are an entirely different breed with unique struggles, issues, and needs. What to expect, and how to help your teenager grow into a happy, healthy, responsible adult.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

rollercoaster mishpacha magazineBy the time a child reaches the teenage years, his or her father and mother will have spent over ten years in the parenting profession. Shouldn’t all of that experience make the job of raising a teenager relatively straightforward?

Any seasoned parent will quickly disabuse you of this notion with a resounding “no.” Many find that the child-rearing strategies they relied on for years are suddenly ineffective. A simple request to one’s teen can turn into an all-out power struggle. Some parents wonder why their once-amiable child now feels like a stranger.

What is it about a teenager that makes this decade so challenging for parents? You’ll notice, for starters, that I said decade, not the seven years from 13 to 19. That’s because the “terrible teen” stage could start as early as 10 years old and last until age 20 (maybe even a little older in some cases). Younger teens (between 10 and 15) do still share some characteristics with children, and even older teens retain some childlike traits. Parents are never completely sure whether to offer hot chocolate or issue a bill for room and board.

Strikingly similar to children in their toddler years, teenagers will often do anything to assert their independence. Now bigger, taller, stronger, and more mature-looking, adolescents think of themselves as grown-ups. Although they may retain the childlike desire to have their parents do all the unpleasant or arduous tasks of life for them — cooking, cleaning, making money, running errands — they now want to make all the decisions that affect them, or at least have a major say in the matter. For instance, whereas a parent can decide that a nine-year-old is going to be staying at Bubby’s house for Shabbos, no self-respecting teenager can be offhandedly assigned a location. The young person will make his or her own arrangements, thank you very much.

The irony is that although teens want to make their own choices, they lack life experience — a lack that can, and indeed does, lead to poor decision-making. The problem only gets exacerbated when you factor in other notable teenage characteristics such as naivete, impulsivity, overconfidence, shortsightedness, a sense of invincibility, egocentricity, and magical thinking.

 

 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you