Helping your Adolescent Child Transition to Adulthood

Helping your Adolescent Child Transition to Adulthood

Adolescence is a notoriously difficult time for young people and their parents alike. In just a few short years, teenagers have to acquire the skills that they will need for adult life, while also dealing with school, academics, and the excitement and angst of early romances. At the same time, they are undergoing dramatic physical and neurological changes, as their bodies grow and acquire adult characteristics, and their brains are “rewired”.

One of the most common mistakes that parents make is to be overprotective in an attempt to ensure that nothing bad will ever happen to their adolescent child. When their children were babies, toddlers, and little girls and boys, they were always there to protect and shield them. Now that they are half-grown, the protective instinct is still there (it never really goes away). But parents who continue to protect their adolescent children to the same extent as they did when they were little are actually disempowering them, because without the opportunity to practice the skills they will need in the adult world, young people will struggle.

The best thing parents can do for their adolescent children is to arm them with the knowledge they will need to make sensible decisions—at least most of the time—and the freedom to make small mistakes in a relatively controlled environment. This calls for a balancing act between discipline and pragmatism, which is not always very easy to achieve.

For example, of course, parents hope that their adolescent children will not drink alcohol, and above all will not drink to excess. Pragmatically, however, some of them will—and if they do, or if their friends do, they need to know how to deal with the situation so that nobody gets hurt. Adolescents need to know that, even if they make some very silly mistakes, their parents will still love them. The last thing anyone needs is for a foolish, drunk teenager to be so scared of Mum and Dad that they don’t ring for help when they are at their most vulnerable.

It can be easy to forget what a potent influence peer pressure is during the adolescent years. Young people typically feel an urgent need to belong to a group and will often go to great lengths to conform to the social norms embodied by their peer group. Parents are often resentful of how their son or daughter suddenly seems to feel that their friends’ opinions and views are the most important. It may be of little consolation, but this is actually a normal and healthy part of growing up. The trick is to help your adolescent child to establish a clear sense of their boundaries and of safe-guarding their own and others’ well-being and health.

While at times, it can seem as though the adolescent phase is going to go on forever, the reality is that it is just a few years. With patience, kindness and love, parents can help their children to navigate this difficult period and grow into wonderful adult women and men.


For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.