The Collision Between the Teenager and Mid-Life Parents
There are many parents that are, at least, in their late 20’s or early 30’s when they begin having children. And there is an ever-increasing societal trend to wait even later to start a family. This puts parents square in the middle of life when their children become preteens and teenagers. Although more studies are being done, it’s safe to say that part of the problem that parents have in dealing with their teens is, to some extent, exacerbated by their own battle with middle age.
During this period, adolescents are exploring a seemingly limitless future, while, simultaneously, parents in mid-life are feeling the constraints of life. While your child is searching for freedom, you are busy bearing the brunt of parental, financial, and other responsibilities to the best of your ability.
The stereotypical mid-life crisis actually happens to a small minority of adults. The fact is that most parents do not quit their jobs or leave their spouses just because they hit age 40 or 50. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some serious introspection going on. This is the time when adults begin to ask some reflective questions about the meaning of life and their particular purpose in it. Difficulties often arise in the form of relational struggles as a carefree teen seeks independence and an aging parent seeks to reinforce the fact that they are still needed and loved by their children.
Dealing with Mid-Life
One of the most important steps that a parent in middle life can take is to become aware of what’s going on. Beginning around age 40-45, and often lasting for as long as a decade, about a third of parents report being dissatisfied in their marriages, unhappy with their work, and discontented with life, in general. In addition, many parents begin to lose confidence, doubt themselves, and some seek treatment for depression. Although most parents are successful at working out their midlife concerns, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help keep the relationship with your teen intact during this time:
* Find outside interests. As kids grow up and teens turn into adults, it becomes increasingly necessary for parents to have a life outside of their children. After all, if everything progresses normally, your teen will not need you in the same capacity as they once did when they were young children. Parents who have developed a hobby and are stimulated by their interests outside of parenting are far healthier as they advance into later stages of life.
* Stay emotionally connected to your teen. Parents that invest time into being emotionally involved with their teens develop closer bonds that endure the test of time. These relational connections will end up serving you, as an aging parent, by providing you with the emotional support you need later in life.
* Don’t hesitate to get professional help. If you are having problems beyond the scope of what you consider to be normal, by all means, don’t be afraid to talk to a qualified life coach or counselor. Oftentimes, just a few sessions can clear up your perspective and point you on a more positive path. Getting professional advice will help you with all of your relationships, especially the one with yourself.
Many times, parents are overwhelmed with their own struggle with mortality and they feel somewhat vulnerable in the face of the youthful actions and carefree style of teens. But your budding adult needs for you to remember that their healthy journey into adulthood is dependent upon a sound relationship with you – their parent.