Between ages eleven and fourteen adolescents tend to:
• worry and be self-conscious about their developing bodies
• experience general moodiness due to hormonal changes
• assert their independence
• have one or two important best friends (for girls).
When Rachel puts on her make-up and gets ready to go out, she has a wistful onlooker. Anna watches with bright eyes, secretly awaiting the day when she too is ready to emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis, attracting admiring glances as she tentatively expands her wings. One night I kissed my sweet, giggly little daughter goodnight and off she went to bed. That night was the start ofyet another exciting and new phase in the lives of the Jacksons.it seems that overnight, adolescence crept up on Anna like a thief in the night and replaced my Barbie-loving little girl with a sullen, door slamming teenager! Gone are the days when we spent time together, baking food for the boys and looking after Ben together. Now our interaction seems to be limited to arguments over her using my make-up and me telling her, numerous times a day, to get off the phone. Adolescence actually came so stealthily on Anna that she (and the rest of us!) was already experiencing the delights that such an influence of hormones can bring before I had a chance to explain to her exactly why she felt so dreadful and why her moods fluctuated so much.
For any parents who have experienced this overnight metamorphosis in their child, please remember that as much as this transformation shocks you as a parent and antagonizes the rest ofthe family, even more so does this change take your adolescent by storm. I must confess that poor Anna had been stamping around glaring at us all and displaying obvious physical signs of puberty for at least a month before I laid down my boxing gloves and realized that I hadn't talked to her personally about puberty and the changes she was experiencing. Yes, Anna has already had sex education and has certainly heard enough about sex and boys whilst earwigging outside Rachel's bedroom door as Rachel giggles and gossips with her friends. She has been (and still is) on the receiving end ofthe adolescent anxieties and teenage turbulence of Rachel and Sarah and whilst Matthew and Luke may not be typical, she has watched them develop and experience their own particular brand of hormonal havoc. However.it is one thing to know such things in theory. In practice it is a rather different matter.
Although Anna is in the early adolescent stage and will, I do not doubt, cross swords with family members many times yet, she has been far better since I explained to her exactly why she feels angry for no apparent reason, exactly why she sometimes feels so down and exactly why she often feels so frustrated at life. Although adolescents have no control over the surge of hormones rampaging through their body, with awareness they can at least recognize their effects for what they are. Through the veil of hormones, I am now beginning to see the true Anna emerge (and very beautiful she is too), as she establishes her identity and develops her own individuality.
Here she is!
Sometimes there may only be glimmers of hope in the midst of rudeness and rebellion, however as parents we must celebrate the fact that our child has reached yet another milestone. OK - so this is not always easy, but what works for me is to mentally remove myself from the situation of conflict and remind myself that adolescence, hormones and the need of teenagers to assert their independence is just as important a stage as crawling or any other childhood milestone. Another tip for parents in the face of typical teenage stuff is to smile (maybe not in front ofthe teenager unless you want the door slammed in your face!) and try to let it all wash over you. Believe me -1 do know that this is easier said than done but when this phase passes there will be another so why fight it?
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