Monday, July 27, 2009

"Parent/Teen Breakthrough"

I recently started reading a book called Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The Relationship Approach. I don't even remember where I heard about it. It's an old book - almost twenty years old - but it still has a lot to offer.

I'm not very far into it, but it has an interesting and refreshing way of looking at parenting kids when they become teens. The authors' premise is that, when kids begin to enter puberty, they switch from wanting to be nurtured, to thinking about becoming independent from us and getting ready to leave home, even if it's a subconscious thought.

In response, as parents, we must shift our focus from controlling and molding our children, to developing respectful, loving relationships with them. The more we control, the more they fight back, simply because their whole being is focused on becoming independent. The solution instead is to treat your child more as a peer and less as a problem to control. This is the first step to developing the relationship that you'll have with your adult child for many decades to come.

I'll write more about this book once I finish it, but for now I simply wanted to make a mention of it. It has some really good ideas about how to talk to your teens and preteens.

My only problem with the authors' approach is that I believe that we should be treating our children with this respect from birth instead of waiting until they reach puberty. My thought is that if you start out with your relationship with your child being mutually respectful, the teen years become much easier to handle, because you've already established that trust and respect.

However, I can't speak from experience yet, because we're just now beginning to enter this phase. So far, our pre-puberty period has been pretty easy - much easier than toddlerhood. It could be that we simply haven't gotten to the difficult stage. My sincere hope is that we've laid the groundwork for the relationship that this book talks about.

Unfortunately with parenting our children, we only know if we've done a good job once it's far too late to make any changes. No do-overs, ya know?


If you liked this post, you might enjoy APing Older Children: I'm Always behind the Curve.


  1. Hi Camille, Another perspective for you on this. Teenagers are not such a huge issue in India, or atleast were not, when I was growing up. Not as huge as here. I think it has a lot to do with the culture being more community / extended-family focussed (here, we're all socialized to become an individual, so much, and in India, we're socialized about suppressing that individual). I am not saying one is better than the other at all. The teenage years though, being so difficult, in this culture, has something to do with this. I remember feeling respected for my feelings by my parents, and did not feel very rebellious as a teenager. I started paying a lot more attention to the "individual" in me, after moving to was a sudden realization - I was supposed to be an individual, I was supposed to have an ego! And it felt good. This's far more complex than I can write about here, but a perspective for you to think about...that the teenager is not yet seeking independence, in other cultures.

  2. I have three teenagers (18 in 3 weeks, 15 and 15). Like you said, we've been focused on being respectful and treating them like real people since birth. While we've had a few challenges, for the most part our kids have always been respectful in return and easy to work WITH, not against. And most definitely, the teenage years are easier to handle than toddlerhood. I'd take a house full of teens before I'd take one more 3-year-old.

  3. Hey Tonya! I like what you said about kids being easy to work WITH instead of against when they're respected. That's a really good way to look at it.
    And I'm with you ... I'll take a house full of teens (even though we're just stepping into that world) over one more 3yo too! I was at a meeting of AP leaders, and most of them had young kids. Many were surprised when I said that I found being an AP parent was MUCH easier with older kids than little ones--at least for me.