Early adolescence marks an important turning point in the parent-child relationship. As the child enters adolescence, the biological, cognitive, and emotional changes of the period spark transformations in the parent-child relationship. In many families, the transition into adolescence coincides with the parent`s transition into midlife, and this, too, may introduce additional challenges into the family system that spill over into the parent-child relationship.
If a teen is to make it as an adult, they cannot be rushing home for loving hugs after every little setback, nor can they continue to rely on parental relationships to get them to work on time or to remind them of other duties and obligations. Thus, one of the most important developmental tasks that a teen faces in their relationships with parents and others, is to achieve a mature and the capacity to make ones` own decisions and to manage life tasks without being overly dependent on other people. Thus, the tensions between the family and the teens increase and spark fly!
Adolescence is a time during which the child`s urges for independence may challenge parents` authority, as the young adolescent strives to establish a sense of emotional autonomy, or individuation. Many parents find early adolescence to be a difficult period requiring a fair amount of adaptation. But, most families are able to cope with these demands successfully. Adolescents fare best, and their family relationships are happiest, in households in which parents are both supportive and are accepting of the child`s needs for more psychological independence.
Although the significance of peer relationships grows during adolescence, the parent-child relationship maintains its importance for the psychological development of the child. As in previous eras, authoritative parenting seems to have the most positive impact on the youngster`s development. Research shows that over time, adolescents who have been reared authoritatively continue to show more success in school, better psychological development, and fewer behavior problems than their counterparts from other types of homes. Youngsters whose parents are disengaged continue to show the most difficulty.
Adolescence may be a time of heightened bickering and somewhat diminished closeness in the parent-child relationship, but most disagreements between parents and young teenagers are over fairly mundane matters, and most teenagers and parents agree on the essentials. During adolescence these changes can happen quickly. Young people often move away from their parent`s beliefs as they are learning about the world, and parents can find this hard. As a young child it was a relationship where your parents were the leaders of the family. As you mature it becomes a more equal relationship where you all relate on the same level. This change doesn`t happen overnight.
The process of moving from one type of relationship to another can be a real struggle and your parents are still responsible for you for, maybe even after you might feel you should be responsible for yourself - so lots of talking about issues is needed. You grow and change so fast when you`re a teenager, your parents can find it hard to keep up. It`s a time when you want some independence. You want to think for yourself, to speak for yourself, to form your own values and opinions, to think about your life style and tastes, your emerging sexuality, to have some privacy, to be your own person. In short, this is the time when you are forming your own identity.
In cultures as diverse as in Asia and the United States, conflicts in relationships between parents and the adolescent teen about self-governance become much more common early in adolescence teen years and gradually decline in frequency throughout the later teenage years. However, it is not required for the conflicts to decline necessarily in intensity. These relationship squabbles, which occur, are usually neither prolonged nor severe, often centering on such issues the adolescent`s physical appearance, her choice of friends, or neglect of schoolwork and household chores. And much of the friction stems from the different perspectives that parents and adolescents adopt.
Parents view these teen relationships conflict through a moral point of view, feeling they have a responsibility to monitor and regulate the conduct of their teen, whereas the teen, locked in his or her quest for autonomy, often views the nagging parents as infringing on their personal rights and choices. As teens continue to assert themselves in the dutiful relationship and parents slowly loosen the control, the parent teen relationships gradually evolves from an enterprise in which the parent is dominant to one in which parents and teen are on a equal footing.
Researchers once believed that the most adaptive route to establishing autonomy was for a teen to separate from the parents by cutting the emotional cords in the relationship. Indeed, young adolescents who perceive their relation with parents to be very conflicting and non supportive, appear to be better adjusted if they distance themselves a bit from their families relationship and can gain the support of a teacher, or another adult mentor from outside the home. Yet if the teen is warmly received at home, they would be ill advised to cut the cords of the relationship, because those who gradually achieve more autonomy while maintaining close relationships to family members display the best overall pattern of psychosocial adjustment.
Any teen is most likely to become appropriately autonomous, achievement oriented and otherwise well adjusted if their parents within the relationship gradually relinquish control. Parents should consistently enforce a reasonable set of rules while involving their teen in discussions and decisions about self-governance issues, monitoring their comings and goings, and continuing to be warm and supportive in the teen relationships, even in the face of the inevitable conflicts that arise. It is mainly when parents react negatively with the relationships to how their teen is pushing for autonomy and so become overly controlling or overly permissive, that their teen is likely to experience personal distress or to rebel and get into trouble. However, it may be much easier for a parent to respond authoritatively to a responsible, levelheaded teen than to one who is hostile and defiant.
This period appears to be temporary, however, and most parents and adolescents are able to establish a comfortable working relationship by the beginning of their colleges. Indeed, by late adolescence most children feel as close to their parents as they did during school. Generally things settle down when people are about 18. It happens because your parents have finally begun to see you as the young adult you are.
Conflicts and power struggles within the relationships are an almost inevitable consequence of the quest for autonomy by any teen. Yet just about any teen and their parents are able to resolve these differences in the relationships while maintaining positive feelings for one another as they re-negotiate their relationship so that it becomes more equal. As a result, the teen autonomy seeker usually becomes more self-reliant while also developing more `friendly` relationships to with their parents. As you move through adolescence and into young adulthood, your relationships with your parents seem to get better. Parents can be one of your best supports, supporting young people through the good times and the bad.