Katie Naftzger, LICSW

family therapist, adoption specialist, speaker, author

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The “It” Factor In Parenting Adopted Teens

Parenting adopted teens is complex, and often incredibly challenging!  Of course, no one ever talks about the teen years being easy.  And, why is that?  Why are they the thing that many parents dread?  Well, one of the reasons is because the stakes get higher.  I’m talking about safety and survival.  When your child was young, you had to make sure they didn’t run into the street, make sure they weren’t getting mistreated in school and make sure they didn’t choke on their food or touch the hot stove, but that can seem more workable than dealing with sex, drugs, high school, swearing, attitude, depression, etc.  I bet there are times when you wish you could just hold their hand again and know that they will be okay.

Most parents don’t have any illusions about actually being able to control their kids, but it’s totally out of the question once they’re teens.  First of all, you can’t tackle them anymore, you can’t really even know what they’re up to.  I mean, in my work I’ve observed what teens tell their parents and what they don’t, and it’s about half.  Of course, it goes without saying that there are exceptions, but you know what I mean, right?  So, you’re going on half the information and twice the worry.

So, what is the “it” factor for parents with adopted teens?  I was inspired to write about this, because of my upcoming group for parents of adopted teens.  The “it” factor is, courage.  It’s that simple and that difficult all at once.  It takes courage to let go and courage to hold on, when that’s what your kids need.  It takes courage to do it even if you’re not sure it’s the right thing to do.  It takes courage to being open to getting the kind of help that really helps.  As we know, parenting is personal and only people who know that can be really help you.  It’s scary to not know whether your teen is putting themselves at risk, emotionally, physically, sexually, and so forth.

It takes courage to the limits that you know are right for you and to withstand the backlash.  Your teen needs that.  They need to know that if you needed to, you would even go up against them, if that’s what was needed.  When your decisions, your consequences, the way you hold your kids accountable are not driven by fear, but with the goal of lovingly protecting them from the now, somewhat, at least, and helping them to prepare for what’s to come.

 

By the way, if you are interested in joining my local “parenting-well” group I’d love to have you join us.  Registration ends this week, or whenever the group is full.  You can register on my “parenting-well” group page or on my upcoming workshops page.

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