The Parent's Survival Guide to Puberty
Everyone knows that it is a parent's right and duty to prepare their child to survive puberty. It is a strange and difficult time and parents, at least, have the benefit of having gone through it themselves and come out the other side. So they are expected to be their child's guides through this period of life and to help them reach the shores of personhood intact and healthy.
It is a big responsibility and one that leaves most parents feeling a little panicky. Perhaps you wish that you had your own guide, to help you through your child's puberty, or perhaps you'd just like to know that there are a few hard and fast rules out there for you to rely on. Either way, you'll find that though this is a sea you'll have to navigate on your own, there are plenty of resources available to help you plot a course.
Knowledge and the Big Picture
One of the reasons that puberty is such a terrifying and confusing time for parents and children alike is that the stakes are extremely high and the number of issues coming to a head is almost overwhelming in its size. The best thing that you can do then, is to take a step back and take a look at the big picture before you dive in and tackle each issue as it comes up.
The first and most important big picture issue for you to tackle is concerned with knowledge. You need to know your child in order to respond to their shifting needs during a time when they themselves may not even be able to articulate them. Just as importantly though, you need to provide your child with the knowledge that will get them through this period. Properly equipping your child to take on puberty is a project that begins long before the first signs of this sea change start to appear.
If you have not discussed something before it even happens, then you are much less likely to be able to make the necessary impact on your child. Worse, your child may stop coming to you with their problems or concerns, leaving them without a valuable advisor and guide and you without a very necessary window into their life.
Structure and the Small Picture
Keeping the lines of communication open is just one of your many responsibilities right now. You also have to provide your child with other sources of structure and support during puberty. They will need a set of rules to abide by as they begin to test themselves and their developing identities. These rules must be enforced solidly and consistently so that your teen can respect them, but they must also be designed to respond to your child shifting needs.
Remember though, a consistently enforced, but patently unfair rule will only undermine your relationship with your child whereas a well chosen rule will give them something to live up to and eventually respect. In the end, the key to surviving puberty is to listen and love your child for who they are and who they are becoming.
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