Understanding Why Teenagers Push Away

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Headshot sad gloomy young woman worried about futureThere may be times when your teenager doesn’t feel like the child you knew just a few months or years ago. She used to cuddle up for comfort and share her secrets. He used to kid around and confide his worries.

But now sometimes you feel like he or she wants you to be invisible as if being around you feels awkward and just ‘off’ somehow. How do you understand and not feel rejected and unwanted?

Reasons Teenagers Push Away When They Struggle with “Who Am I?”

As a parent you understand that your teenager is in the midst of the process of answering, “Who am I?” But, strangely enough, you are asking that of yourself, too. When your child goes through a new developmental stage, so do you as a parent.

You’ve lost your compass as a mother and want to be available but not intrusive. Your intuition tells you that as your child is figuring out her sense of self, she needs to distance herself emotionally and often physically, too.

You also intuit that part of the “who am I” question contains another very unsettling question, “Am I normal?” She watches her peers like a hawk to see how she’s similar or different. Then she assumes everyone is scrutinizing her as well, including you. That’s another reason she’s keeping her distance, because she may believe you are judging her like she’s judging herself.

Teenagers Feel They Have to Cross the Bridge of Adolescence on Their Own

When toddlers first begin to walk, they want to toddle away and then come back and check we’re still there. Preschoolers like to hold our hands when they enter new situations. Grade school kids describe funny things that happened during the day and enjoy our attentive listening.

But, unlike other milestones where your assistance was sought, teenagers push away when they may need you the most. When they push away, it doesn’t mean they don’t need you during this passage, they’re just afraid to think they do.

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