One predominant characteristic of the adolescent years is a drive for independence. They will resist control at all costs. They are creative and determined to make their own choices and secure their own destiny. Therefore, they will find a way to be free as your control tightens around them.
Think back to when your adolescent was a toddler, just beginning to walk. You held them up as they wobbled along, but your goal was for them to walk without holding them. Your goal in parenting an adolescent is really not that different. You gradually let go so they can find their way on their own as they march along the pathway to becoming a young adult. It was your joy when you child could walk on their own. Pictures were taken and videos were made to highlight your excitement at their success. It is also to your credit when you adolescent becomes confident to make their own choices and be responsible for the consequences.
The letting go part does not mean taking yourself out of their life. They actually need you as much now as when they were wobbling around trying to take their first steps. It means being involved in their life in a different way. Listening, watching, and encouraging with your words should actually increase during these years. Lots of expressions of your love are also important for their growth and peace of mind.
There is lots of time to practice letting go because adolescence lasts a long time. It begins at about 8 years old and continues into the early 20s. The painful part is in the beginning and starts to hurt your heart at about 10-11 years old. This is normally when they become verbally combative in the pushing away from you to grasp their independence.
It might be helpful to write something like this on a paper and look at it each day:
- Daily, my adolescent is battling to become an independent, confident adult.
- How can I support them today?
They will wobble, and they will fall. Gently and compassionately help them back up. You already know how to do this because you were there when they learned to walk. This is just another version of the same period of rapid growth in their brain that is moving them forward.