Going in for parenting and family counseling was an admission of defeat, but at the same time it was a way to start on the road to a brighter future. Parents and teens occasionally fight, but since our twins hit their preteen years, everything has been a nightmare. We have always been a very traditional, faith-based family, so this has been a hard pill to swallow. I used to think that the key was to have strong ground rules and a firm hand, but this seems to only make things worse. My parenting and family troubles would increase every time I would shout at my daughters, ground them, or tell them that they had to do what I said because I am the father.
I finally realized that it was time for outside help.
There are plenty of parenting and family experts out there, but the problem is that different people come from different perspectives. Family mental health is a very difficult and complex topic, and there are lots of different ways to look at it. Some people believe that authoritarian parenting is the answer, which is the perspective I was coming from. Other people believe that a family is a community, and that everyone should have a voice. This is especially true as your children start to grow up. Teenage rebellion is natural, and the important thing is to find a way to stop it from disturbing your parenting and family unity. The problem is, if you clamp down too much on your teenagers attempts to express themselves, they won't be able to develop their own personalities and really become mature, functional adults.
If there is anything that the parenting and family therapy has taught me, it is that authoritative parenting isn't the only way to go. Sure, being in control has its place, and most children need limits, but adults also need to grow up and understand that they have limits to. My therapist taught me that by bringing children into this world, I signed up to help them become full-grown adults. This doesn't mean just setting limits, but also gradually relaxing them as my children become more mature and more capable of assuming the roles of adulthood. This is no easy task, but then again I should know what I was signing up for.
Since learning to relax control a bit, my parenting and family problems have really eased up. I am getting along better with my daughters, and me, my wife, and the two girls are all happier. The funny thing is, once you stop clamping down teenagers, they stopped rebelling. It seems that they just wanted a measure of respect and acknowledgment that they had certain freedoms.