The “In Between” is the phase children go through between childhood and adulthood. It is a time of great transition.
The physical body goes through rapid growth and development.
Academically, children are ideally learning how to think and making connections cognitively. Socially and emotionally, children transition from dependence to independence. Peer influence becomes more important to them than family.
They deepen the process of self-realization; contemplating questions like who they are, what their purpose is, what they want to do with their lives.
Adolescence is not just an in between phase for children; it is also a great time of transition for parents too.
Parents are learning to let go and trust
Ideally by this point, parents have laid a foundation for honesty, trust, and open communication with their teens; paving the way for a smoother transition.
If there are breakdowns in honesty, trust, and/or communication, it is important to deal with them head on.
When/if the family reaches a point of instability, and are unable to work their way out on their own, it is important to seek help from a licensed professional.
The “In Between” can be deluged with challenges revolving around issues of power and control.
This phase of development provides an opportunity for families to discover a balance that works for them.
Boundaries will be set and crossed, and reset again. Like with parenting toddlers, the mantra freedom within limits can be a helpful middle ground.
Set limits you are comfortable with, keeping safety at the forefront, whilst allowing your teen some leeway to make their own decisions.
It can be immensely helpful if parents can be mindful that mistakes are inevitable during this phase of life. It is a great time to reflect upon our own teen years, realizing our own mistakes, and share some of our personal stories with our teens (as appropriate).
Cognitive ability for good judgment is not fully developed until around age 22 for young women and 25 for young men. It is understandable this can be a worrisome time for parents.
Here are 4 effective parenting tips for maintaining sanity during the In Between
- Clearly communicate the rules and expectations, as well as consequences for undesired behaviors. Enforcing consequences is imperative. Set healthy boundaries and check in with teens in whatever way works for your family. (There is no substitute for face to face, however some teens respond well via text.)
- Beside the parental care, do not forget to take care of you during this phase.
Practice good self care: get a massage, try writing in a journal, spending time outdoors, developing a hobby, practicing mindfulness, connect with other parents of teens, or do something constructive with your time.
- When in doubt, seek help. If you are not able to effectively (and peacefully) communicate with your teen,seek professional help at the first sign of trouble. Many times communication difficulties can easily be resolved within a few sessions, with an experienced counselor.
- Focus on the things you can be grateful for. This simple shift in mindset and attitude is a proverbial game changer in the process of parenting through the In Between.
Remember to affirm the positive attributes and carve out time for family fun togetherness. Focus on what can be gained, even in the more difficult or challenging situations. It can be helpful to see the challenges as an opportunity for growth for both yourself and your teen.