Mitchell Rosen: Teenage years are a time for learning — for the teens and their parents
I like counseling teenagers. Some of my colleagues think I’m nuts, but I enjoy an adolescent’s willingness to blurt out what they are thinking with little regard who they are talking to.
Many parents bring their 9- to 16-year-old kids in for counseling because they are not certain if their son or daughter is having a surge of hormones or if there may be something to worry about. There are certain expected behaviors; adolescents may be a bit lippier, willing to test limits or experiment with defiance. Not unusual, but certainly behaviors that benefit from guidance.
Parents I speak with don’t want their kids to be passive, they know our culture tends to eat up and spit out those who acquiesce or are overly compliant. Mom and dad also don’t want to raise a child who will be known as that mean kid who cares little about the feelings of others, always grabs first what they think is theirs or has no problem dominating others.
The teen years are a time of experimenting. Kids test the waters and see if they can get their way, if authority is really all that strict and whether mom or dad will actually follow through with consequences. Adolescence is a learning curve. That may sound coarse, and perhaps there is a more elegant way to say this, but that’s what it is — a time of trial and error.
Therapists who counsel lots of families with teenagers can spend hours and wind up saying, “Pick your battles. That’s the best advice I can give you.” It doesn’t mean the hours were wasted; it’s important to rule out if their kid has an attitude or an actual disorder. Once it’s established, there is no mental diagnosis other than a healthy dose of adolescence. Mom or dad may need help […]