Our Rites of Passage »
“Your children do not need more. Each day adds more facts, more gadgets, more activities, more desires and more confusion to their lives.” — William Martin, “The Parent’s Tao Te Ching”
One of the most difficult passages to navigate along the parent/child journey is the transition from child to teenager. Many ancient cultures and religions have time-honored traditions for recognizing and celebrating the importance of this season in young people’s lives. It’s when they begin to discover more of who they truly are and who they came here to be.
When a tribe gathers to initiate a young person into the world of adulthood, it is sending a powerful message: “We believe you can handle it.” In our culture, how often do we send the opposite message and keep our children from stepping into a powerful time of greater personal responsibility?
One of the most challenging aspect for parents is to accept the reality that their children are growing up much more quickly than ever dreamed. The parents can try to slow the train down and hold on to the young child, but that only delays the emotional development that is so crucial for a young person to move into the bigger world.
This can be a confusing and messy time for all involved as teens create their own ways of initiating themselves into the world of adults. It can be drugs, alcohol, sex or dangerous and illegal behaviors that look like the way to shed the skin of the child and “grow up.” Because we are so fearful and protective when our children are small, many of them have few life skills to help them when they need it most.
For parents, faith and surrender are the most important qualities to work on now. Parents must consistently send a crucial message of empowerment to their teens, even when the parents are not so sure.
Another crucial distinction during this time is the difference between acceptance and approval. We can accept our teens and love them right where they are, even when we don’t approve of their behavior. And we can let them experience the consequences of their choices, good or bad.
If you have youngsters in your life struggling with this part of the journey, remember to affirm to them, “You can handle it.”