Parenting teens and tweens is one of the most important responsibilities in any parent’s life. This period is where the child’s individual identity is formed, separate from their parents, as they take their first steps into the adult world. This can be a very challenging time for teens and tweens both on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Teenagers must face great change due to hormones, outside influences, and more, but with an added history of adoption, the art of parenting teens and tweens can become quite a challenge for some.
To successfully navigate the teenage years, parents need to be able to display strong parenting skills to best help their child to adapt to these changes and start to become a healthy adult. This can be even more important if the child has had a difficult start in life.
There are some impacting factors which may require parents to adapt their approach, such as prenatal exposure to substances, infant neglect, or childhood trauma. These can all affect brain development. However, with the right parental input at the critical developmental moments, you child will be able to rise above any difficult past.
Tips to Parent Adopted Teens and Tweens
At the heart of every parent’s purpose should be a drive to build their child’s self-worth to achieve their full potential. While many of these tips can relate to all parents, parents of adopted children may need to focus more closely on one or more of the areas listed below.
Encouraging Brain Development
- Encourage activities that are healthy to your teen’s physical, social, and cultural development.
- Give your teen the time to engage in solo activities, but place reasonable limitations on these.
- Encourage your teen to try new things and activities.
- Give your teen a front seat in decision-making.
- If you start to notice signs of developmental delays, then seek professional advice quickly.
Helping your Teen Heal from Trauma
- Make sure you are always available both emotionally and physically.
- Learn your child’s triggers and work with them to manage and understand them.
- Give your teen emotional freedom by allowing them to express and work through their emotions.
- If problems start to become extreme, or your methods aren’t working, do not be afraid to seek professional advice.
Helping your Teen Form Their Identity
Discovering their genuine self is the most important element of an adopted teen’s growth into adulthood. They may need to explore their gender or sexual identity, or in the case of mixed-race adoption, understand or embrace their culture. In this time, they may also become curious about their birth parents or birth family.
- Have open and honest conversations about your child’s birth situation and birth family.
- Work with your child on their life book or create one.
- Help your child explore their heritage.
- Give your child ample opportunity to interact with their peers.
- Encourage your child to see the similarities between you and them.
- Be open in conversations of intimacy and sexuality.
Most importantly: Work with your child, listen to their voice, allow them to express their emotions, and navigate challenges together.