Contrary to what your pre-teen or teenager might tell you, they are not ready to fully take over the reins in life. Even the most mature “young adult” simply does not have the wisdom that comes from time and experience. I frequently meet with frustrated parents who tell me their child is acting like a “mini-adult” or rebelling against their authority. And I am glad that they make the time to discuss their concerns and ask for information in order to become an even better parent! Today’s secular popular culture sends a lot of mixed messages to youth and young adults about what is appropriate behavior. The Internet, social media, and smart phones also play a big role in their daily lives which can be daunting for parents who did not have these entertainment and communication options.
Parents often share with me that they believe their child is “old enough” to fully understand what they are doing as they go about their day or enjoy this impressive technology. Plus, s/he’s always been a smart kid! Although pre-teens and teens may know “what” they are doing, the areas of their maturing brains that handle “how,” “why,” and rational decision-making are simply not as quickly accessible as an adult’s before their early 20’s. Teens may not agree, but they are also more prone to following their emotions. This does not mean they should not be held responsible for their actions, but it does imply that they may not fully grasp the true ramifications of concerning actions like bullying, using offensive language, posting/sending inappropriate photographs and videos, “sexting,” experimenting with drugs, and making other poor decisions.
Pre-teens and teenagers are smart and have promising futures, but they are not miniature adults. Although they do deserve increasing independence over time, like everything in life it needs to be exercised within clearly communicated boundaries prior to their reaching actual adulthood. Sometimes effective communication between parents and their pre-teen or teenager can be difficult because parents are the authority figures who set these boundaries. Counseling may solve this dilemma as a counselor can be an accepting, helpful person to talk to in a safe environment.
Struggling with your child’s decisions, setting healthy boundaries, or looking for someone your pre-teen or teenager can comfortably talk to? Call me today for more information and an appointment!
Amanda Magrisso, M.S.
Registered Mental Health Intern