Parenting and the importance of liking your adolescent
This interesting article from Psychology Today looks at the complicated relationship between parents and teenagers
Many parents value the importance of love but underestimate the power of liking.
“Adolescence is the time when you and your child still love each other as always, but often don’t like each other as much.” So I was told on good parental authority.
The notion was that while childhood was filled with taking pleasure in each other’s company, adolescence is often about parent and teenager putting up with how each other have become harder to live with.
What follows is why I believe that active liking is an important part of effectively parenting an adolescent.
Less liking from the loss of childhood
For the parents, gone is the adoring and adorable little child whose tag-along company they miss. For the adolescent, gone are the perfectly wonderful parents and the fun-loving company they used to be. For both parent and changing child, adolescence begins with some loss of mutual enjoyment, and liking is its name.
Come adolescence, a lessening of traditional liking on both sides of the relationship can occur.
Although it can feel easy to blame each other for this disaffection, the real culprit is growth. Now, three developmental engines – separation, experimentation, and opposition – drive the adolescent transformation toward more independence and individuality. Now more contention can occur. “You haven’t done what I asked!” collides with, “I said I would, in a while!”
Increased abrasion from normal differences starts wearing down the old connection between them, gradually growing them more apart from each other, which is what the coming of age passage is meant to accomplish.
Love is not enough
To some parents, this partial loss of liking seems like no big deal so long as lasting love remains strong because, surely, loving counts more than liking. Yes and no. If you could only have one, certainly love would be the best choice. However, never underestimate the power of parental liking. Consider it this way.
The power of parental love is nurturing attachment on which trust in the lasting power of this unconditional commitment depends. “I know my parents have always loved me and always will.” We are talking about foundational presence here.
The power of parental liking is providing approval from their high authority on which much conditional self-esteem depends. “I think well of myself because my parents have always thought well of me.” We are talking about formative influence here.