Navigating the Teen Years: A Guide for Families

The teen years. We were all there once. And, yet, it’s a stage of life that remains confusing and challenging for all involved. It’s really no wonder.

Teenagers are in the midst of multiple changes involving education, employment, and living arrangements. That’s enough to make anyone feel stressed, let alone someone whose body is undergoing a rapid transformation as well. Adolescence Across Place and Time, Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, Second Edition describes this tumultuous time as a transitional period between childhood and adulthood, whose cultural purpose is the preparation of children for adult roles.

That’s a big deal. It’s also very exciting.

Though my daughter is only nine years old, I often make a point of reminding myself that I’m raising her to become a successful adult. As parents, we can become quite focused on our children as little people who need us. Certainly, they’ll always need our love, support, and encouragement. But the time comes when they must also do for themselves and become who they’re meant to be beyond our oversight and protection.

Our children all-too-quickly become a group of young people on the cusp of pursuing dreams, or, at the very least, obtaining the freedom to figure out what their dreams are. While many parents bemoan the process due to their own feelings ranging from frustration to sadness, and teens themselves agonize over the challenges they face, this is a crucial time for parents and teens to come together. Frankly, our future as a society depends on it.

And, so, this month on Learning Liftoff, we’ll be posting tips, research, personal stories, and resources to help guide families through these important and difficult years.

We’ve started this week by telling you about award-winning books for young adults and how to prevent teens from dropping out of high school. A single dad to a teenage daughter writes about how he learned to listen and offers tips for motivating teens.

We love TED-Ed, and discovered a wonderful piece on how the adolescent brain works.

Other topics scheduled for the weeks to come include:

  • games and activities for teens
  • tackling procrastination
  • monitoring cell phone use and online activity
  • jobs for teens
  • popular apps for teens and what parents should know

We’ll finish the month with a series of profiles on teens who are changing the world by way of amazing accomplishments. We hope these stories will inform and inspire you to connect with your teen and experience their journey to adulthood with a bit more peace and a lot of hope and encouragement. The next generation is here.

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