For the parents/caregivers of the adolescent

If you have clicked to this section, I do not have to tell you that parenting an adolescent has its unique challenges. The adolescent phase of development calls for some modifications in the way that you interact with your child in terms of authority and relatability. Learning how to adapt to changes is strenuous on everyone in the family.


As parents, you encourage your children to reach their potential by recognizing their talents as well as teaching them to overcome their challenges.

Yet, the entire time that you selflessly provide the means necessary to help your children find success in these potentials — such as transportation; education; financial resources; school projects; attending activities, etc. — your children tend to want more and more from you and less and less of you. They are trying to establish a sense of independence, and sometimes the way that they go about it, or even the fact that they are, can break your heart.

Dealing well with the changing emotional and physical development of your teenage children depends on your own comfort level with intimacy.

You might find that it is extremely difficult or uncomfortable for you to help your child deal with problems related to his/her budding romantic interests, dramatic social interactions or strong resistance to taking you seriously when attempting to draw the line. If you are finding yourself a bit lost at this time; give yourself a break. You are a parent, and there is no one way or perfect way to deal with all of the demands of your job.

While your teen is trying to find himself he may inadvertently hurt your feelings by alienating you. For example, you may have been privy to comments such as, “Leave me alone!” or “You don’t understand anything, you were a kid 100 years ago!” As a parent you might feel abandoned by your teen as he searches for his identity and that is a really tough pill to swallow.


Try to remember, your teen is very uncomfortable with the new needs, challenges and emotions that he is faced with socially and academically.

It is because of this discomfort that he might go about his personal quest for identity in a hurtful way. Teens, too, have been blindsided by all of this newness, despite how many talks you have had about puberty and the challenges of growing up. Although it is hard, try not to take it too personally. Your child loves you and is simply experiencing the dilemma of how to express himself in many ways.

Perhaps you are the one who has considered therapy as a means to help your teen cope, or perhaps your son or daughter has approached you asking for the support from a therapist. Either way, this is a big step that can lead to repairing your child’s relationship with his/herself as well as her family as she grapples with the uncertainties of maturing.


When your child attends therapy, she will have the opportunity to disclose what she is struggling with as well as the feelings associated with her struggle.

She has the opportunity to share with the therapist things that trouble her that they might not be telling anyone else,which can be dangerous. Your child will have confidentiality within the therapeutic relationship which means that anything discussed with the therapist is private, unless she is a danger to herself or someone else. Your child will need to be certain that she can trust the therapist and it is imperative that she does not perceive the therapist as another authority figure. In other words, the therapist will not be lecturing your child about unfinished chores or missing school assignments. Instead, the therapist will be helping your child work through her challenges as well as identify self-destructive ways that she might be using to cope with stress.

The role of the therapist while working with your child is to support your child and help her to develop effective methods to deal with adversity.

Most importantly, the therapeutic experience will assist your adolescent to establish a sense of comfort within her own skin. As part of this, your daughter, or son, will learn to articulate her emotions to you, her caregiver, and other important people in her life in a nonconfrontational way. She will also work with the therapist to learn how to tolerate limits that you set for her without shutting you out. Your child may have her own goal for therapy, and that is both wonderful and invited. In addition, the therapist will help your child identify ways to improve the quality of her own life that she may not be capable of seeing on her own.


If you are interested in your son or daughter seeking help from a therapist but you are not sure how he/she will react, invite them to read the Adolescent Therapy section that you have just read as well as A Letter to The Teenager of The House, found below.

Dear Teen,

I am writing this letter to confirm that being a teenager is difficult.

You may hear from many adults this is the best or easiest time of your life. Adults mean well. With that said, it is much easier to see the teen years from that perspective when you are 20 years beyond them. The fact is: the phase of life that you are in right now is filled with many different stressors and pressures. Depending on your circumstances, some problems are more crucial than others; nonetheless, your worries, your pain, your confusion and your conflicts are important. In fact, they are just as important as any adults', no matter how trivial it may seem to them in comparison. Hurt is hurt, and pain is pain. Growing up is not always easy or much fun. In fact it can feel very scary.

At a time in your life when you are seeking autonomy and independence it can be very difficult when there are so many details of your life that you have no control over. For example, you do not get to decide if your parents stay married or get divorced; you do not get to decide how your parents interact with each other (whether they are married or not); you do not get to decide who you live with or where you live; you have no control over the amount of money your parents make; you may not even be of age to drive yet, or maybe you are, but your parents can’t afford to pay for driver’s training, to purchase a car or pay for car insurance. So here you are, a teenager with little to no say on issues that have an enormous impact on your life, yet you are at a turning point in maturity where you are expected to make responsible and mature decisions…a conundrum, don’t you think? I do.

As a teenager, you may be facing struggles while trying to pull together all of the different components of your life. Socially and emotionally you might be trying to learn how to get people to like you. If you are considering a romantic relationship, you might be thinking, “How do I tell someone how I feel about them?,” “How do I know if someone likes me?,” “What if I am rejected?,” or “How do I keep someone interested in me?” You may have the very same concerns about initiating or maintaining friendships. Guess what? For the most part, adults have a lot of similar struggles, which means you will be dealing with many of these issues for the rest of your life. Therefore, now is a perfect time to begin learning how to cope in these situations in healthy and effective ways that can lead to more meaningful, healthy and lasting relationships as well as develop stronger conflict resolution skills so that you can confront someone to solve a problem without being filled with worry and anxiety or getting caught up in the drama that others might try to suck you into.

It is very important to feel special and important, and it is also very normal to want be liked by your peers. Therefore, it is necessary to learn appropriate ways to engage with people so that you are not compromising yourself while trying to fit in, be liked, or make new friends. Getting comfortable with yourself is half of the battle. Working one-on-one with a therapist can help you to understand what it is you want most and then help you to determine healthy ways to achieve your desired outcome both personally and academically.


Do you find that you frequently feel angry and lash out at your parents or act-out behaviorally at school and even though you do not want it to keep happening, you just cannot help it? or Do you ever find yourself just being mean to your parent/guardian, siblings or friends for no reason at all?


If you have answered yes to one of those questions, even though I have not met you yet or heard your story, I know that you are suffering. It is very difficult to feel out-of-control of your anger, and it is often very hard to deal with the guilt or remorse that you feel when you have hurt someone that you love or when you have displaced your anger onto someone else who did not cause your pain. Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that usually a more vulnerable feeling like sadness is experienced first. Feeling sad or having your feelings hurt however, is much more scary to deal with than anger is.

Because anger feels less threatening, it is much easier to express. The problem with only being comfortable expressing anger is that it can create many unnecessary problems for you, such as: fighting with family members, hurting other people that you are close to, getting into trouble at school, or losing friendships that matter to you. Working with a therapist can help you to identify feelings underneath the anger and express those feelings, so that people around you, who love and care about you, can learn what you really need and help you to get it. Therapy can also help you to manage your anger so that you can be in control of your anger, instead of your anger being in control of you. Learning better coping skills will help you to improve the quality of the relationship that you have with yourself and others. Anger is baggage; it is a weight and a burden, and it can prevent you from having the happiness in your life that you deserve.


An idea that I often like to emphasize is that you are older a lot longer than you are younger.


When you are a teenager, your thinking and behavior tends to be impulsive and you want what you want right now and will do whatever it takes to get what you want without much regard for your own well-being in the long run. Working together with a therapist can help you to develop foresight; the ability to see how your actions might impact your future. This is such an important part of the process because you can learn to make decisions based on well-thought out ideas or plans, ultimately leading to long-term change.

You do not have to face life’s challenges alone. A therapist can provide you with the support needed while you develop the coping skills necessary to deal with issues that you are currently confronted with. Furthermore, the skills and the self-awareness that you will gain while working with a therapist will be of value to you as you enter early adulthood and throughout the rest of your life.

Erin Beato, MA, LLP, PC