ROLE OF FAMILY IN ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Identity formation is one of the highest point in adolescent growth and development, therefore, the importance of supportive relationships with family members and connections to community need to be promoted. Even a sense of family can help a young person through transitional times..

Research shows, however, that ongoing positive family connections are protective factors against a range of risky behaviors that affect the health of adolescents. Although the nature of relationships is changing, the continuity of family connections and a secure emotional base is crucial for the positive development of young people.

It is normal for young people to begin to think for themselves and question aspects of their lives and of family relationships. These changes may mean times of anger and frustration that is leveled at the family, but in the majority of circumstances these feelings are likely to be temporary or circumstantial.

Parents will benefit from being supported to understand the role of rebellion in young people’s development. Limit setting still needs to occur for poor or unacceptable behaviour. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the importance of peer groups, and how they become more influential than parents at this age. Whilst peers do become significant, the quality of the relationship is different, with peers providing intimacy based on equality, and parents providing a relationship still based on a power imbalance. Peer relationships, therefore, have a purpose, but do not usually become more important to young people. 

Young people still require stability in a home environment, and a secure emotional base from which to explore and experience the world. This also provides them with somewhere to come back to for reassurance, support and unconditional love in tough times. 

A parent’s relationship and caring role with a young person continues to be important, although the relationship will need to be flexible to adapt to the teenager’s changing needs. At this time, there will need to be a gradual change from a more authoritative approach, to a more collaborative approach. 

Parents have to face the (sometimes hard) reality that their child is no longer a child, is becoming independent and is no longer within their control. They may feel distressed as they perceive that the young person won’t listen to them, or does the opposite of what they may suggest. 

They may have to watch their young person disregard the things they thought they taught them were important, such as ways to look after their health, or their future goals (as the parent envisaged it). 

Parents have to learn to ‘let go’, not of the relationship, but of their dreams for the young person, and their authority over the young people, so that they may allow a young person to develop their own dreams and greater self- responsibility.

 Guidance and boundaries are still important, however the quality of the relationship, and collaboration rather than ‘obedience’, becomes increasingly important if a relationship is to survive and be maintained. 

Joint discussions about rules/options, compromise and flexibility for win/win solutions are important. Warmth and understanding are important, rather than judgmental comments or telling a young person what to do.

A family and its members continue to provide valuable role models for a range of behaviours, including effective communication, relationship skills, and socially acceptable behaviours. The ways in which conflict and disagreements are negotiated within the family are important blueprints for dealing with issues in other arenas.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE FAMILY!

 

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