TEENS NEED SAFETY & ACCOMMODATION, TOOFeb 06, 2024
Originally published Apr. 27th, 2023. Written by Amanda Diekman.
In talking with parents of teenagers in my low demand community, I heard the fear and assumption that teens should be moving toward independence and needing fewer supports and accommodations from their parents. I heard about teenagers who seem to need more support to fall asleep now than they did when they were little kids. Co-regulation, emotional support, and struggles with daily tasks are heavy and taxing for parents. "What if I'm messing them up?" one parent bravely asked.
LET'S UNDERSTAND THE “WHY"
I can think of so many reasons that your teenage children would need more emotional support now than they even did when they were younger. Everything is changing so fast, which is really scary. Their perception of the world is growing by leaps and bounds as well as what they are exposed to.
The things that can happen to them are harder and scarier and realer to face, and the vulnerability that comes with the knowledge that the world is vast and parents cannot truly protect you and that awful things can happen. Plus they are managing increasingly complex social situations, which they may not be able to process or navigate independently.
WHAT ARE WE TEACHING?
For teenagers to know that they can lean on their parents to be with them in this incredibly challenging transition that they are facing from child to adult…one that seems to rush in all of a sudden and simultaneously lasts the rest of our lives…What a rich gift to be focusing on a solid foundation of trust and connection.
To accommodate our teens, rather than ratcheting up expectations in such an intensely vulnerable season of their lives, says that we all do well when we can. It says that even adults need and deserve accommodation. That we are not on a conveyer belt to independence, where everyone pops out the same at the end.
At this critical moment of burgeoning adulthood, when the world begins to pile on demands of what it means to be a successful, independent human, it is even more important for you to offer accommodations, safety, and support in alignment with your teen's needs and capacities. For teens and young adults, this can be life-saving.
Gaps between society's expectations and your child's capacities may be more glaring and obvious now. You may feel exposed, scared, grieving. You need anti-ableist parenting as much as your children do. There is no one way to be a thriving adult. There is no measuring rod that we have to compare against. There's no external litmus test for successful parenting.
And in terms of the fear that you’re messing up somehow by providing accommodation and support,
I definitely don’t think you are.
You are with them when they need you.
That’s a treasure beyond comparison.
Why is everything so hard?
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