Adolescence is a challenging time in our lives. It marks the transition from childhood into adulthood and it brings about enormous changes for us, both physically and psychologically. Not only must we surrender our childhoods, but we must also embrace our dawning adulthood with all its responsibilities and uncertainties.

Although it is rarely acknowledged, there is often a profound sense of sadness for many teens as they must leave the safety and innocence or their childhoods behind. This sadness is magnified by their fears and anxiety about how they will find their way in the new adult world that they have no choice but to join.

Like all social creatures, when we find ourselves challenged we will instinctively be drawn to the security and safety of our pack. But for adolescents, their ‘pack’ is as likely to be their peers as their family. Because of this we often see great struggles for acceptance in both groups, even though the values of one group might be in sharp contrast to the values of the other group.

Because the changes in one member of a family impact upon all the other members of the family, we can see that it is a time of change for everyone, not just the adolescent themselves. For the parents of a teenager this time also represents change and uncertainty. They are left with no option but to surrender their role as guardian and must accept that their offspring are now beginning to make decisions for themselves.

This can become a strong source of anxiety for parents as they now find themselves watching their child move away from them, both physically and emotionally, and all they can do is hope that their guidance and wisdom might be heard over the noise of peers, college life, boyfriends or girlfriends, work experience, trips to Australia and anything else that takes their interest.

As parents, we can find it very difficult to let go and so we find ourselves constantly thinking about and worrying about our children, only to be told that we are ‘obsessing’, ‘interfering’ or ‘controlling’ etc.

With all of these stresses and strains within the family it is not surprising that we see so many of the ‘typical’ behaviours associated with teenagers.

Counselling can help an adolescent discover what is happening for them and how they feel about these changes. Counselling for the parents of adolescents can also help them come to terms with their changing role in their childs life. This acceptance and understanding can go a long way towards making the transition from childhood to adulthood much easier.