YouthZone column: Parenting is difficult and you are not alone
Let’s start with the facts: Parenting is difficult! And, far from what some may have you believe, there is no easy parenting situation. Parenting in a two-parent or nuclear family situation is difficult. Parenting as a single, divorced, or stepparent is also difficult. Parenting as a grandparent, extended relative, or even foster parent is too very difficult. No matter what your child-raising situation or relationship, you will have trying times as a parent, and that is OK, and it is normal.
In fact, it is normal for adolescents to act impulsive, emotional, illogical and rebellious as they figure out how they fit into society and push the boundaries of the world around them. They often choose their friends over family when in search of social identity. As a parenting figure in the life of an adolescent, identifying the normal from the harmful can feel impossible.
As parents, our actions speak louder than words and inform our children how to react and interact with the world. Remember that old phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? It was never effective, because adolescences mimic our ways of navigating the world. They mimic their parents’ response to life events, way of dealing with difficult situations, example of what is an acceptable way to treat one another, estimation of one’s own worth and value, idea of what defines a healthy relationship and so much more. For example, if a parent acts emotionally to a situation, then the adolescent may have a learned reaction and act emotionally as well.
Our world is ever evolving, and sometimes we need help. That is normal. That is OK. There is no shame in asking for help. Every single one of us has dealt with hardships during the two-year COVID-19 pandemic. And none more than our adolescents as they shift their attentions to social media and technology that satisfies their every impulse yet presents a false reality and unrealistic expectations of the world and social interaction. As parents, we are often unsure how to effectively handle the defiance, disrespect, non-compliance, substance use and other disruptive behavior conducted by our children.
At YouthZone, we have built a nonprofit to support parenting figures, their families and their adolescents. You are not alone, as YouthZone has seen an increase in parents seeking assistance with challenging adolescent behavior. We offer parent counseling and education services, as well as family resources. If you are struggling as a parental figure or loved one of an adolescent, please reach out. YouthZone provides comprehensive assessment and advocacy to inspire healthy relationships between youth, families and communities. If you would like to learn more about how YouthZone can help you and your family, please give YouthZone a call at 970-945-9300.
Tina Olson has worked at YouthZone as the clinical supervisor and senior therapist since 2017. She is a licensed professional counselor specializing in children and families.
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