The most important thing for parents to do as their child gets older is to keep the lines of communication open. This usually breaks down when parent(s) become resistant to knowing what is going on with their child. This is often because they are more focused on the child being loyal to the family rather than what the child is experiencing outside the family.
When the child goes to school, he finds out that the rest of the world is different than his family. This creates conflict. He creates a dual life in which he is one way with his family and another with his friends. He feels like he has betrayed his family. He stops sharing with his parents what he is doing outside the family. And the parents do not want to look at the
fact that he is acting differently outside the family. This is when the lines of communication get broken.
I remember when the lines of communication got broken with my father and myself. My friends and I were starting to swear at school, and I felt like I needed to fess up to my father. He angrily confronted me asking about each one word by word. I denied each one out of fear. So when he asked which ones I was talking about, I offered up words like "crap". He proceeded to laugh at me. Well, so much for being honest with Dad.
Parents in a healthy and flexible family set the standard by modeling healthy relating inside the family, but also staying open to how their children relate outside the family. It may be scary to hear about the things their children have gotten themselves into, but they force themselves to stay open to what their children are doing. In doing so, they keep the lines of communication open.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.