All families experience issues, problems, stressors, and struggles over time. Common family struggles and stressors include discipline problems, issues with communication, parenting concerns, adjustment to divorce or new living situations, or problems acclimating to being a blended family. There are practical methods to aid in improving family life for those that are experiencing struggles. Parents should keep in mind that teenagers may become closed off, but they can and they will talk about struggles and issues that they are experiencing. Family members should be seen as allies in navigating through difficulties.
Communication is key to resolving issues within the family. A lack of clear and effective communication can lead to dysfunction. There are several common communication problems including:
- Adolescents failing to communicate with their parents.
- Parent difficulty in communicating their concerns to their partner.
- Lack of ability to work with family members in order to solve problems or issues that arise.
- Parent’s belief that their child is not listening to them or abiding by what they are told.
Communication may suffer due to:
- Changes within the family makeup (e.g., divorce, birth in the family, remarriage)
- Family members experiencing new demands in life (e.g., increased work hours, changes in activities, change in jobs, change in finances)
- Different communication styles.
- Changes within the development of the child (i.e., communication for children may not translate to communication that is appropriate to use with adolescent).
These issues usually increase and arise when members of the family become angry or frustrated, which then leads to blaming and withdrawal from the situation. Withdrawing from communication leads to avoidance of problems and thus, the problems are never solved.
There are several myths regarding family life including:
- Families that are good do not experience or have problems.
- If you are a great parent, your child will not experience problems.
- Having a child and raising them is an easy task.
- Good parents do not experience stress.
- People who are well adjusted are able to balance work, personal obligations, and parenting easily.
- Extremely troubled families are the only ones who need therapy.
These myths lead parents to believe that they should not seek treatment for problems that would be significantly easier to navigate with the aid or therapy.
Therapy may allow for the development of more effective communication between teenagers and their parents. Therapists may also increase the parents and teenagers abilities to implement effective problem-solving skills. Further, therapists may aid parents in the establishment of better and more effective strategies for discipline, resolving issues between adolescents and their family members, and aid in the adjustment to changes in family dynamics (e.g., divorce, separation, marriage, moving, and/or financial changes).
Carolyn Heier, Psy.D. focuses on depression, anxiety, and trauma, and relationship issues. If you would like to discuss any of these topics or how to approach family struggles regarding your teenager please contact The McLean Counseling Center via our website.