Parenting Throughout Our Children's Development
“It’s hard because I know you need me less and less.” As the words left my mouth, I instinctively knew they were wrong, yet I had been holding onto them as the truth. My 5-year old son graduated preschool that day, an accomplishment that doesn’t seem big until you experience it as a parent. When I went to give my son a hug, the tears came flowing. He questioned if I was sad, and after explaining how proud I was, I tried to let him understand the mixed emotions of knowing he needed me less and less. As Oprah would proclaim, I had an “aha” moment. I realized our children never need us less and less, but just in different ways.
I began to reflect how much I need my parents now, just in different ways. I thought about the first person I call when my childcare fails, who do I call when an emergency hits, and who do I need when I am feeling sick. The parent/child relationship changes as our children age, but we always need our parents.
It became evident in my mind that my belief that older children and teenagers need us less, might be part of the problem with adolescent mental health. I have been working with teens for the past 15 years, and I can say with certainty that our teens rely on parent support just as much as babies, toddlers, and elementary aged children. Teenagers might resent their parents when they provide structure and consequences, but also respect and need it. Adolescents often push their parents away, as they emerge into adulthood. It is similar to a toddler learning the word “no,” as they learn they have independent thought. However, just like toddlers still need their parents for support and safety, teenagers need their parents’ support, unconditional love, wisdom, guidance on how to problem solve, help with setting goals, and a parent that is available to be there in the tough times.
Parents, don’t forget that your children still need you- no matter the age. They just need you in different ways throughout their lifetime. My favorite saying, “Sometimes when children are the most unlovable, it is when they need the most love.” I whole heartedly believe this about my adolescent (and child) clients. Never forget how needed you are as parents!
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LPA, LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/