Lately I've been writing about some of the ways we can parent so that our kids feel securely attached and connected with us and the world. This isn't something we talk about much for teenagers, and although it looks different (of course!) at this age, it is just as important as it was when they are babies.
As teens develop, they aren't meant to become independent of us, but interdependent with us (and others). We are their base. Some spend a lot of time at our base, others don't spend much, but all securely attached kids rely on that base as a place where that they are safe to be just themselves.
Without secure attachment, teens seek their primary sense of belonging and acceptance from peers. But peers, even if they're wonderful, can't give unconditional acceptance. At this age, the peer group is conditional, expecting each person to conform to social norms. Whether teens are conforming to norms like getting perfect grades or sending naked selfies, those norms can be painful and destructive.
Our loving connection, while it doesn't ensure smooth and conflict-free teen years, does protect our teens. With a secure connection at home, they can talk to us about the pressures, confusions, and struggles without fear of being judged, punished, or (worst of all) rejected by us.
If you, like me, are a parent of teens, take some time to reflect on your connection. Can you, do you, accept them even when you don't like their choices? Do they know that you can listen to them without judging? Do you love them without pressuring them to conform to your beliefs?
Tomorrow, more about how to strengthen connection during the teen years!
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.