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A Parent’s Survival Guide to Puberty

Survival Guide to Puberty

A 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. 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 of 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.

No matter how much you prepare, puberty will come with unexpected challenges. Every child's experience with puberty is different. Some children are lucky and go through it without many hiccups. Other children experience many significant challenges before they come out the other side. Either way, if your child lives in a structured environment and knows that they have your support, they'll be okay.

Puberty and Mental Illness

Make sure you keep an eye out for signs of mental illness. Many teens begin to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues as they go through puberty. Bullying is, sadly, very common at this life stage, as children strike their own identities and begin to care more about a status quo. Make sure your child knows that they can come to you if they are experiencing any mental health issues.

If your child does come to you about feeling depressed or anxious, do not make a huge deal out of it. Take it seriously, of course, but don't react by being judgmental, accusatory, or aggravated. Don't jump to assume that they're suicidal or self-harming. Allow your child to define their experiences. Listen, and only speak when your child has finished detailing their thoughts and experiences. By giving your child the ability to speak their thoughts freely without fear of judgment, you'll ensure that they always see you as a safe person to turn to.

In the event that your child becomes depressed or suffers from some other mental health complication, it is important that you get them help. Don't try to be their hero; it's unlikely that you can fix this problem. As frustrating as it is, as your child grows there will be problems that you can't fix for them. Get them help from a professional who can dig into the roots of their problems and help your child overcome them.

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