Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finding Happiness in Parenting

Parenting is so complicated. So many times parents come in to my office and say "My daughter was absolutely perfect until she hit the teen years. Then she is like a different person."  The problem is that often a child who seems "perfect" and never causes any trouble may also be the child who is not developing their own sense of identity.  This is a problem because during the teen years the same child will do everything a peer group does, just like she used to do everything you said.  She gets her sense of acceptance by being like the people she wants to accept her.

How awful that parents must worry not only if their child is getting into trouble but must also worry if their child is too perfect.  What's up with that?  That hardly seems fair, does it?

Developing a sense of identity is an important developmental task. Identity is made up mostly of a person's likes and dislikes. Make sure your child has a voice, can tell you what his preferences are and how he feels about different situations and experiences. Listen, don't try to shape his opinion no matter how much you disagree. It's important that his opinion is his opinion and he feels his opinion is accepted.  Let him express his preference for a restaurant, clothes, television shows, and friends. Give him lots of opportunties to make choices that are appropriate for his age.

Helping your child develop a sense of identity is just one way to start preparing for those teen years, which is good for your child and will make your life easier. You know those times, that's when you as a parent know nothing and are just out to make your child's  life miserable. It's all just developmental, and that too will pass!

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