Dr Jozelle Miller
June 5, 2018
Why is having a supportive parent so important for teenagers?

The influence that you have over your child is more dependent on a trusting relationship than it is on how much authority you dish out and how many lectures you give.

It may feel like they’re trying to push you away, but they’re actually trying to push themselves away from you to choose a direction in life, and to shape an identity for themselves as a separate, independent person.

Love, support, trust and optimism from their family make them feel safe and secure, and are powerful weapons against peer pressure, life’s challenges and disappointments.

Some parents struggle to adjust to the demands that parenting their child through the teenage years brings. It’s a time that can put even the strongest and most loving relationships to the test. Your child needs you at this time just as much as they have always needed you, but in a different way.

They are looking to you for support through one of the biggest changes in their life, towards adulthood and independence. You’ve been through it, so you know how confusing and difficult it can be. Don’t be afraid to share some of your own teenage experiences with your child. Tell them that you understand because it happened to you too. Talk to them about how you handled it (or didn’t handle it) and what you learnt from it. Realizing that everyone goes through the same struggles can be very reassuring to your child, especially if it’s their parent that is telling their stories.

Your child is becoming an independent person. They need a firm foundation of values and expectations that can guide them now, and carry them into adult life.

Decide what’s important to your family and how you’ll share those expectations and values with your child. That way they’ll have the knowledge to help them navigate life on their own and make decisions that fit with what the family values.

There’s no doubt that the teenage years will probably cause you some worry and frustration. There may be times when you feel as if you don’t know your child, or are disappointed by some of their choices. Try to be as loving and supportive as you can through all of their trials, no matter how small they are. If you can do this, they’re more likely to rely on you, share their struggles and come to you when they need help.

Be there for them in the way that you would have wanted your parent to be there for you when you were growing up.