Psychological Self-Help

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78
ways to allow some freedom and decision-making to the teen but also
underscores the importance of the teen taking responsibility for his/her
decisions, that is the parent combines some permissiveness with some firm
parental insistence on being responsible. The trick is to maintain a caring
relationship through the conflicts of the teen years so that life’s longest and
sometimes warmest relationship can flourish during the remaining 70 years or
so of life. Riera (2003) does a nice job of describing how parents and their
teenager can stay connected.
Child care, growing up, the impact of childhood experiences, and family
problems, such as abuse, are discussed in chapter 9. Helpful Websites about
(http://parentingteens.about.com/) and at Focus Adolescent Services
(http://www.focusas.com/Parenting.html). Try putting “helping your
teenager” into Google or any other search engine and see if you find
information that might be helpful to your teenager. There are Websites about
coping with many problems: step-family, career planning, cliques, smoking,
weight, trauma, peer pressure, depression, driving, being responsible, stress,
etc. Meaningful, helpful talk with your teenager is a sound basis for a
relationship.
Getting closer again
If you are a young adult who has gone through "the wars" with one or
both parents, it may be wise and rewarding to try to get closer again. Try to
see your parents as real people: how old were they when you were born?
What problems did they have? Do you suppose they often wondered what to
do and if they were being good parents to you? Did being parents interfere
with important goals in their lives? Were and are they desperately wanting
you to "turn out all right" and make them proud? Are they longing for a close
relationship with you? If they get disappointed and angry at you, is that
awful? 
Some day when you are feeling reasonably secure about yourself and
positive about your parents, take the initiative and open up to them. Share
your feelings: fears, self-doubts, regrets about the fights, how difficult it was
to break away, and your hope for a mature, equal, accepting, close
relationship with them in the future. Emphasize the positive. If they have
been helpful, show your appreciation. Forget and forgive the "war," if
possible, or, at least, avoid letting the poison keep festering. The students I
work with find this "reunion" with their parents scary to plan. But it is
extremely gratifying, once it is done, to have taken some responsibility for
this relationship--almost certainly the longest, deepest, and most influential
relationship you will ever have. Many people are amazed at how hard it is to
say "I love you" and to hug or touch their mother or father or child again. But
it feels so good. Many of us cry. 
If you are grown and independent and love your parents openly and never
had to fight with your parents to get where you are, be sure to thank them
for doing so well in a difficult job. If you are wishing your parents had been
better, ask yourself: "Although they weren't perfect, weren't they good
enough?" They did what they had to do (see determinism in chapter 14). If
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