Why do teenagers pull away from their parents?

Mamathato asks: My son is 13 years old, and he has become sensitive about some stuff. For example, he told me not to call him in front of his friends a lot, because I am embarrassing him, and his friends call him mommy’s boy.

Hi Mamathato –

I don’t know if this will strike you as good news or bad, but here goes:  You son’s behavior is 100% ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY FULLY SUPERLATIVELY… Normal.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that, if a teenager hits age 18 without having behaved the way your son is acting, there’s something wrong.

The job of a child is to bond with their parents or caregivers, and learn to live life based on how those adults act.  The job of a teenager is to differentiate themselves from those parents, and begin to live life on their own terms.  It is never smooth or easy, any more than it was when your son was two and trying to define himself by saying “no” all the time!  But it is absolutely necessary.

What’s good is that your son isn’t doing anything wrong.  It sounds like he’s not insulting you, or hurting you, or doing anything to hurt himself.  He’s just entering the age where boys (especially) try to pretend they’re way more independent than they are.

There’s a great book about adolescence titled “Get Out Of My Life! … but first can you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?”  That pretty much defines it.  Teens want to be seen as independent, but also need to know you’re there for them.  And if you think it’s confusing to raise one, believe me, it’s just as hard to be one!  Your poor son might be really happy to see you one day, and a friend will see his glee, and make fun of it (Why?  Because the friend is also going through this stage, and is embarrassed to see your son being so happy to see his Mom!).

Your best bet is to realize that you’re going to spend the next six years or so juggling three roles:  You’re the caretaker who loves and nurtures him; You’re the cool adult who gives him the space he needs; and, yes, you’re the disciplinarian who keeps him in line when necessary.  He’s not going to like you being some of those roles at some of the times.  But whenever it’s possible, if you can play the role he’s wanting (but also able to jump into another role because you know it’s best), you’ll be the sort of parent he’ll grow to appreciate more and more over time.

After all, there have been times when Handsome has embarrassed me (picking me up and carrying me when other dogs could see), and times when he’s gotten me very upset (like when he’s been really mad at something I’ve done).  But overall, he’s made sure I’ve known he loves me, and wants me to be as happy as I can be.  And to me, that means the world.

Best of luck, my friend.  Feel free to check in here for advice and support anytime!  You’re doing one of the most important jobs in the world!




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atif - December 18, 2012 Reply

that is the most suitable advice for the kids

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