How can I get my mother to realize that I'm not a kid anymore and that our relationship has changed? She and I have always been close, but it's different now that I'm a teenager. Some of it's my fault. I get moody, and I know that my behavior hurts her sometimes. I wish she could understand that I'm not trying to offend her or push her away. I'm just figuring things out and going through a lot of stuff in my own mind. What makes it harder is that I don't always understand why I act the way I do. Can you help me?
As you're finding out, adolescence isn't easy. You're going through many changes in both mind and body, some of which can affect you mentally and emotionally. It's all part of the process of discovering who you are and becoming a young adult. There may be moments when hormonal, chemical, and emotional forces influence you to pull away from parents and family and to lean more heavily on friends and peers in an effort to establish your own identity. Psychologists call this stage of development separationand individuation. It's completely normal and it happens all the time.
This process can be hard on parents, especially for a mom if she feels like she's losing the closeness she's enjoyed with her child since birth. Your sensitivity to this aspect of the situation is an important step in the right direction. If you can keep moving along this track, you may begin to gain some of the insights you need to improve your relationship with your mother. Put yourself in her shoes and try to see things from her point of view. You'll be surprised how this can change your attitude and behavior.
Growing up means learning that love requires courage, determination, and a willingness to set your own feelings aside for the sake of another person. This is seldom easy, but it's important to try if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your mom.
We realize that you're "figuring things out and going through a lot of stuff in your own mind" right now. That's okay. In fact, there isn't much you can do about this, and you don't have to feel bad about it. But you do need to remember that this doesn't give you license to be rude or irritable with your mom. She loves you deeply, and she needs to know that you love her in return. So as often as you can, move beyond the feelings and issues that tend to cause tension between you and your mother. Reach out and reconnect with her in some simple but meaningful way - maybe by asking her about her day or inviting her to go out for ice cream with you. You'll be glad you did.
If you think it might be helpful to discuss these ideas at greater length with a member of our staff, we'd like to invite you to call Focus on the Family's Counseling Department. Our trained counselors will be happy to discuss your feelings with you over the phone. They can also provide you with a list of referrals to licensed Christian family therapists in your area who may be able to offer further assistance. You can reach them at this number.
Preparing for Adolescence: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change (book)
The Hope Line with Dawson McAllister - A comprehensive youth resource ministry that makes available study guides, videos, a monthly magazine "Teen Quest," and a national radio show called "Dawson McAllister Live."
Young Life - A global Christian ministry committed to reaching adolescent youth with the gospel through clubs that meet regularly.