WHEN I THINK about adolescents, I'm reminded of what William Faulkner said one the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize in literature -- that man will not merely endure, he will prevail.
People think adolescence is a challenge, but that's not what makes it different from other stages of parenting. I advise my patients not to let their pre-teens' and teenagers' behavioral changes obscure the tremendous emotional and intellectual growth that is also occurring -- growth that makes a young person more interesting, more capable, and eventually, more mature.
To take advantage of these changes, try to make sure your teenager is getting enough rest -- including rest from their electronic devices, which should be off a full hour before they try to go to sleep. Studies have shown it's natural for teens to stay up late, but that doesn't mean the time has to be spent on a computer. Reading a magazine, doing math homework and even planning tomorrow's outfit will make it easier for your teenager to fall asleep when she tries. And if you can use that last hour for talking between you and him even once or twice a month, you're doing great.
No one can do everything, and it is true that teens can be difficult to understand. You'll have to decide what's really important to you, and sometimes you'll have to decide where to take a stand. Will it be family dinners? Limiting TV? Cleaning his room or helping around the house, or calling her distant grandmother? And so like every other stage of parenting, these years will ultimately reflect your own particular values, dreams and goals. It makes sense to stop and think about what those are. You're going o be transmitting them for sure.
Of course, some adolescents are not so difficult at all -- that's normal too! Don't be too surprised -- and don't be too worried! -- if your child's teenage years are the most rewarding of all. For sure you'll realize this when they leave the nest -- still in their teens.