Launched into Adulthood
Do you ever brag to others about how well your adult children are doing? Well educated, great job, great family, on his/her way. How did that happen? Adolescence is the proving ground of adulthood, where our teens develop the tools to have an enriching, successful adult life. Analogous to our space program, we parents are in ground control in Houston. After graduating high school, our teens enter adult life in one way or another. Job, college, marriage, a life mostly separate from us. Before launch, we provide our teens with measures of accountability (curfew is 12 midnight, don't be late) and oversight (let me look over your college personal statement before you submit it). We guide the launch by exercising the principle of responsible freedom. Our teens have as much freedom as they demonstrate responsibility for. If/when they become irresponsible, we will pull back on their freedom and give them opportunity to learn from the mistake and regain our trust.
After launch, on their journey, we help them make mid-course corrections, much like the thruster rockets on the sides of the space ship adjust its trajectory. As parents of teens, we use advice-based parenting tools. "Been there, done that, son. Let's talk." As parents of young adults, we switch to consultative parenting. "I've got some thoughts about what's going on. Do you want to hear them?" Getting his/her permission first conveys your respect and recognition that he's grown and gone. Then you are free to convey wise counsel.
Launching your teen into adulthood can take 10 weeks, 10 months, 10 years (think boomerang kid). Be patient and use your active listening. They will get it and make you proud(er).
Everybody has them. They often control the inner flow of our bodily functions. There are everyday hormones, growth hormones, and sex hormones. Hormones also contribute to the seasons of our lives. Coming of age, teenage hormones often get a bad rap. In fact, adolescent growth and sex hormones are awesome! They pave the way to adulthood. They usher in the developmental life stage of creating an individual identity.
For girls, the obvious hormone invasion is menarche, that magical moment when menstrual flow begins and physically a girl becomes a woman. For boys, the event is more gradual, cracking of the voice as it deepens, beard and other hair growth. Hormones are also about attitude. Getting cocky, sassy, challenging authority, finding and testing boundaries.
The other life stage that is hormone-laden is menopause, in the 45-55 age range for women. The best cognitive reframe I've heard for the hot flashes women experience in menopause is describing them as "power surges." Male menopause doesn't have the obvious flag, but nonetheless is characterized by industry, expansiveness, finding life meaning. This can result in dramatic directional changes in career, relationship, and values.
When adolescent hormones and adult mid-life hormones are all in the mix in a family, hold on. In Chapter Six of Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, I explain how hormones will wreak havoc in families. The answer, however, is not to avoid them. Rather, try embracing them. Plan for them. Talk about all the changes. Use active listening to understand the feelings behind the actions and respond in ways that respect boundaries and enhance the family experience. Hormones. Ugh! but they don't have to be.