This is for the parents who are struggling with their teens’ developing and changing identities and for those who really just want their teens to bypass adolescence entirely and move straight into adulthood.
We hear you! Adolescence is a TOUGH time.
Of course, we all know there are no shortcuts, and if we try to ignore the importance of adolescent developmental milestones, then we might be making it more difficult for our kids to grow up. Teens need time to figure out their likes, dislikes, values, beliefs, boundaries, sexuality, and have the opportunity to formulate ideas and opinions about themselves and the world in which they exist. We might as well buckle up and get comfortable with the fact that our teens might come home one day looking like they are sports stars and the next day like they are hippies, because the truth is that adolescence is the time for exploring the ‘self.’
For instance, have you heard of this social media VSCO Girl trend? Anyone freaked out by it? Or, enjoying the nostalgia, since those of us who grew up in the 90’s are having flashbacks from our tweens and teens?! Personally, I am fascinated! I had to look up a video on Youtube to get a better understanding of these teens who call themselves VSCO Girls - let me just say that scrunchies are back, people!!! If you’re wondering what in the heck I’m talking about, Urban Dictionary clues us in with this very specific description--“Wears oversized t-shirts or sweatshirts with Nike shorts. Has Vans, Crocs, Birks, and wears a shell necklace. She also wears tube tops and Jean shorts. She always has a hydroflask. She can't leave home without a scrunchie, and her favorite car is a jeep.”
Even if your teen is no VSCO, chances are they know exactly what it is, as well as all kinds of other styles we adults have never heard of. Naturally, we have our own mental and emotional experience as parents when we’re confronted with these types of trends. And, identity development is ever-changing because teens and young people can be totally sold into one style or trend, and within a few years, look and act completely differently. Teens often adapt to the changing world around them but learn valuable lessons from these phases of identity development.
When I introduced this whole VSCO thing to my husband, he shook his head and said, “NOPE, not in my house, our girls will not be doing anything like that!” which made me chuckle. He gets into power struggles a little more often than I do. But, it prompted us to talk about it and come up with a few ideas for managing our own issues, in order to support our kids in their developing identity.
Tips on Keeping it Together:
Don’t minimize their experience. It can be easy to just call their new ‘look’ and ‘persona’ a fad, but this dismisses their interest and enjoyment, which might make them want to keep going with it longer just to prove you wrong.
You don’t have to like it; just be open to it. You can be emotionally supportive without having to like what they are doing. Think about how it’s helping them, rather than focusing on what your opinion of it is.
Look at old photos of your teen years. Making a trip down memory lane can help us to readjust our perspective, and remember this is probably not going to last forever. We grew up at some point, and so will our teens, if we let them.
Be curious. By showing our genuine curiosity, teens can choose to let us into their world, and we can gain a better understanding of why they are engaging in certain cultural or subculture trends.
You don’t have to support it financially. Some trends or lifestyles can cost a lot of money. ‘VSCO’ is no different, and as parents, we have the right and responsibility to say ‘no’ sometimes. You can support your teen emotionally, but if your teen wants you to spend a significant amount of money on clothing or accessories and you don’t have it in the budget, then definitely say, ‘No, but I am happy to help you figure out a way to earn it.’ If they can rake leaves, push a lawn mower, clean floors, or wash a car, then they can earn money to support an expensive lifestyle. Plus, they will learn a valuable lesson in money management, which you want them to learn now, instead of when they’re trying to live on their own.
So, having a few tips and ideas in mind for coping with the sometimes confusing or different or even annoying trends that our teens engage in will help us parents get through the teen years without losing our marbles!!!
As always, if you need some extra support for you or your teen, just shoot us an email!
Seija Zimmerman, LMFT #106164
Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818