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Old 08-24-2014, 10:39 PM
 
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To the extent that mom tries to make her a replica of her (blurred boundaries), she has to work harder at individuation and being different. A mom who completely accepts her in all her choices and doesn't set any limits at all gives her nothing to "push" against.
I get this, and I experienced all the pushing as an adolescent myself, so I know that's how it usually plays out. But I can't help but wonder if the only way to individuate from home and family is to push against them.What if you found something outside home and family and pulled towards that? Can't you define yourself as a competent near-adult by being something or doing something that's different from what your family does? Something positive and adventurous, something where your competence and ability are clear, something driven by a passion you hold dear, something outside your parents' realm of experience?

I feel like with my eldest dd I was that mom who accepted all her choices and didn't give her anything to push against. Instead she was fortunate to get some adventurous experiences to test herself against, and she followed a somewhat unusual educational path which she chose for herself. She has grown up confident and independent, comfortable with who she is. I'm not saying every moment of her adolescence was sunshine and roses, but throughout her stuttering course towards maturity neither of us felt like there was a developmentally-driven pushing against parental limits taking place.

I think it can be very difficult to find appropriate ways for teens to really test themselves and have meaningful independent experiences that shape their self-concept as separate, capable near-adults. Historically those experiences were much more readily available for adolescents, whether through child labour, apprenticeships, early marriage, domestic service or military enlistment, but often in rather unhealthy or risky ways. I am not at all nostalgic for those sorts of opportunities, but I think they likely made very short work of the "separation from family" aspect of adolescence, and perhaps there's something we can learn from that.

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Old 08-25-2014, 04:14 AM
 
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I think you are right about the experiences that used to be more readily available in an earlier time. And there were so many more opportunities for men than for women. I think this is one of the reasons kids do risky things too. And why Outward Bound experiences are popular.

I do think pushing toward vs pushing against is valid. Differentiation is the 'key.' How am I different from you? And in what ways am I comfortable being similar?

 
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not saying every moment of her adolescence was sunshine and roses, but throughout her stuttering course towards maturity neither of us felt like there was a developmentally-driven pushing against parental limits taking place.
It sounds like for you the ideal is for there not to be a push and pull with parents. I can understand why you may feel that way but I don't think there's anything wrong with kids individuating within the family unit.

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Old 08-25-2014, 04:47 AM
 
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Good point, Lauren. Somewhere around this house I have a child development book about the teen years (Bates-Ames). I'll probably find it once DC is 15. ;-)

I am reminded in this discussion about toddlerhood (maybe because I also still have a toddler). I think there's a lot to be said for effective parenting but we know as parents of toddlers that there will be challenges and that some of those challenges exist because of an essential developmental hurdle our kids need to go through. Separation anxiety comes to mind as something that is normal and expected - not the result of some dysfunction.

Perhaps part of me is feeling a tad defensive at the notion that this dynamic I'm/we're discussing is avoidable. I do think it is, for some, sure. Just as some children never really experience separation anxiety. But I don't feel that this sort of phase is a negative. It has it's frustrations, yes, but I don't think I'd trade it.
YES! I agree. It doesn't have to be unpleasant! I think for parents that are purely nostalgic it can be unpleasant! When my oldest daughter was going through it, I still had the snuggles of my youngest so the disconnect wasn't as difficult. I may have a different reaction when my little one reaches this stage!!

Here's something fun since you brought up toddler years. I once heard an interview of the women who wrote the "What to Expect" book series for pregnant moms and moms of little ones. They were asked why they didn't keep going and write a book for the adolescent years. They laughed and said "we just refer parents back to the 'what to expect in the toddler years' book!"

In other words, the struggles that may exist are pretty much identical to what toddlers experience: "how much can I explore before you will pull me back? How much can I explore before I grow terrified and need you? What can I get away with? Will you stop me before I go too far? Will you always be there for me?" And if we relax and approach it as something cute like we did when they were toddlers, then it doesn't have to be difficult.

It isn't about US and we are still OK!

 
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:51 AM
 
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It sounds like for you the ideal is for there not to be a push and pull with parents. I can understand why you may feel that way but I don't think there's anything wrong with kids individuating within the family unit.
Yes! Again, attachment parents often feel like this phase of adolescence says something negative about their relationship with their child. And it doesn't. ANy more than our tantrumming toddler says something negative about our relationship with our child.

 
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do think pushing toward vs pushing against is valid. Differentiation is the 'key.' How am I different from you? And in what ways am I comfortable being similar?
Interestingly, the main place where DC has moved away from wanting help from me is in the arts. My own mother is an artist. I tended to not want to think about art the way she thought about art and I went about it differently. Now my DC seems to be continuing the tradition.

I'm tempted to say that this isn't unusual. I think if a child does follow in the footsteps of parents, it's all the more important for them to find their own way.

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In other words, the struggles that may exist are pretty much identical to what toddlers experience: "how much can I explore before you will pull me back? How much can I explore before I grow terrified and need you? What can I get away with? Will you stop me before I go too far? Will you always be there for me?" And if we relax and approach it as something cute like we did when they were toddlers, then it doesn't have to be difficult.

It isn't about US and we are still OK!
Yes! I think that being in the thick of the toddler years and having a teen is what makes me so strongly attached to the idea that struggle is "ok" (and even essential)...

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Yes! Again, attachment parents often feel like this phase of adolescence says something negative about their relationship with their child. And it doesn't. ANy more than our tantrumming toddler says something negative about our relationship with our child.
Yes, and thanks for that!

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I think it can be very difficult to find appropriate ways for teens to really test themselves and have meaningful independent experiences that shape their self-concept as separate, capable near-adults.
One nice thing about where we live is that there really is all of this for kids, if families are willing and able to take advantage of what the city has to offer. I read an article somewhere recently that hypothesized that the key to safe exploration in the teen years was for kids to take a lot of risks in earlier childhood. This made some sense to me.

I think some of the conversation has shifted a little to experiences typical of older adolescents - this rebellion and risk taking. We're not there yet but I think (hope) I'll be pretty good at this stage. I had assumed that this stage was something parents find especially difficult -- but several have posted that things mellow out around 15. How does rebellion risk fit into that mellowing out period at the age where I thought risk-taking comes in?

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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