We all know that adolescence is a stage characterized by significant physical, intellectual , emotional and social changes, which sometimes lead to certain difficulties , both in the adolescent and in the parents and in the family environment.
At this time, although adolescents need references, spaces in which to feel safe and accompanied, they will also seek their own spaces and their freedom, in an effort to explore the world, reaffirm themselves and get to know themselves .
But, how to manage as fathers and mothers this need for freedom and independence with them? To what extent should we respect their desire and how can we accompany them in that freedom while ensuring their well-being ? We will try to shed some light on this issue. Check out more interesting topics on our site Faith Blog.
Need for independence and freedom in adolescence
With the arrival of adolescence, and even before, children often demand more and more of their space; they want to feel free , to be autonomous and independent and to build their own personal and social space, as well as their identity.
Thus, adolescents increasingly want to make freer decisions , that their opinions be taken into account and valued, and they also feel prepared to make their own decisions and take responsibility for them (sometimes that perception they have fits with reality, and others Not really, we’ll have to find out.
“Responsibility is the price of freedom.”
And it’s normal all this that they crave and “claim”, it’s okay! However, sometimes we must establish certain limits and rules with them so that they can learn to manage all that independence they long for, without imposing, just accompanying and understanding.
But how do we do it? It is not an easy task; To do this, we propose some key ideas to get you started.
How to manage this freedom with our adolescent children?
Trust: a key element
Trust is a key element when it comes to managing that desire for freedom with our adolescent children. We talk as much about the trust that they may have in us (to cultivate it) as about the trust that we are having in them.
Thus, it is a double process; “I give you confidence because I think you are mature enough to manage that freedom, but at the same time, you must trust me, that I want the best for you.”
Set reasonable rules and limits
That we trust our children and give them “room for maneuver” when going out, making decisions, etc., does not mean that we cannot establish a minimum of rules and limits that they must respect.
Although it is true that these norms may be less and less, or very flexible (if we compare it with the norms of childhood, in the previous stage), it is important that they exist, because the norms structure and also provide security (although they sometimes feel they don’t).
But to achieve this, it is important that they experience them as something beneficial for them, and never as an imposition (next point).
Advise and accompany, not impose
Both the rules and the limits or the advice that we share with our adolescent children, we must transmit them from calm, trust and love, and never as an imposition.
If they live it like this, the opposite effect will probably happen, and that is that they feel pressured, or that they feel that their space and their sense of freedom are being invaded.
Therefore, use words of love and understanding when talking about all these rules, because that is where you can build a common path of trust with your children.
The importance of consensus and dialogue
If you want to give your adolescent children the confidence to learn to manage their own freedom, while ensuring their well -being , it is also important that you agree and discuss the rules that we mentioned.
And this has a lot to do with the previous point we mentioned, about non-imposition. For example, instead of “you have to come home at twelve”, we can opt for: “I propose twelve as the time of arrival at home, what do you think?”.
Logically, it is not about always giving in , but about agreeing, discussing and getting to know their opinion regarding our proposals ( listen to them !).
listen to your needs
Behind that desire for freedom characteristic of adolescence, many desires and needs are hidden. Which are?
Knowing them will help you get closer to your child and understand him better. Ask him, openly, what does he need? More independence? More margin, or time, when it comes to going out with your friends ? Do you feel invaded? Why?
All these questions will help you to connect with your child and you can open a common debate about what he needs, what he wants and to what extent he can have those freedoms (negotiating and listening).
Respect their spaces
Finally, it is very important that we respect our teenager’s space, both physically and emotionally.
In this way, our son must have his private spaces ; to respect them, for example, we will not enter his room without knocking on the door first. Or if we want to talk to him, we’ll ask him if it’s a good time to do it, etc.
Benefits of cultivating a common space of trust and freedom
With all these proposed strategies, what we are looking for is to create a common space with our son of trust and freedom (both physically and emotionally).
It is about building a space in which he feels free but at the same time, where he knows how far he can and how far he can’t, and above all, where he can count on us for whatever he needs.
Let him know that we will never leave him alone, although sometimes he needs to be and it is good that he is (you also learn a lot from loneliness).
It would be like a journey that our son undertakes towards his autonomy, knowing that our hand will continue to be by his side whenever he needs to hold it.