The teenage years are often the most tumultuous time of life because so many things are happening at once. In the midst of puberty, a series of biological changes that make any sort of consistency impossible, the teenager is also forming an identity, exploring romance, and preparing for adulthood. With so many things happening at once, no wonder teens are often so up-and- down.
Being a parent of a teen can be difficult, as well, because as part of this process, the teenager begins to pull away. It is a natural and sometimes heart-wrenching process, defined by an overall attitude from the teen that he or she does not need the parents, punctuated by times when the teen desperately needs the parents. If your teen is struggling with an issue and you are thinking of seeking professional help, you might want to consider a form of therapy that includes you as part of the process. This can be done in a variety of ways. First and most straightforwardly, you can try family therapy, which will include one or both parents in the room along with the teen, and even perhaps siblings. A different method is to have your teen begin individual therapy, and receive updates from the therapist about progress. While it is important that confidentiality exist between your teenager and his or her therapist, general comments about progress, or suggestions from the therapist about how to best support the teen, are appropriate and often helpful. It is important to realize during this stressful time—made more difficult perhaps by a mental health issue—that you, as the parent, occupy a crucial role in your teenager’s life, even if they do not act like it sometimes. Teenagers will often treat everyone better than they treat you, but when
difficult times arise, you are the person they will turn to.