I've had more conversation with parents of teens this summer than ever before. Normally when people discover I am a Youth Worker it doesn't flow naturally into conversation, this year though it's opened up a whole bunch of questions around adolescence and parenting.
A regular theme of these chats has been the role of parents through adolescence and the vital self-esteem battery charger they can (and need to) be, and what this might look like.
Great therefore to come across this article and research on the benefit that time with parents is to teenagers. (Admittedly it's a narrow and small focus group but useful nevertheless in flagging up a more positive role for parents than they sometimes feel they have at this stage).
Musing in my 'Coffice' I thought I'd have a stab at a kind of list of principles.
1. Friends become the significant peer group for teens but don't underestimate your role or importance through adolescence.
2. Try to cultivate listening above talking
3. Don't be discouraged that teens don't want to talk when you want to .... but embrace the opportunity when they do (this will be at odd times (and especially LATE at night) or when you are busy.
4. Put creativity and play into what you do together as a family or one-to-one with your teen. Create memories, celebrate landmarks, engender family traditions.
5. Teens absorb everything that is happening around them. What we say will only have any weight at all if it is consistent with what we are and do (or if we are honest about when it is not).
Hope that's not too preachy a list but I throw it out there in case it's useful. Adolescence is an incredible time of transition, change and development and yes it gets complex, messy and a bit bewildering on the way (brief pause whilst you nod or scream) but it is an important formative process. It's bit like a caterpillar transitioning into a butterfly and I'll bet there's some real messy stuff happening there too.