The teenage years are one of the most crucial stages in a child's development. It’s where they start to form their own identity separate from that of their parents, and begin to take their first steps into the adult world. It also can be a very taxing time for a child, both physically and mentally, as when everything changes, hormones rage, identity fluctuates, all children can start to struggle. Add a history of adoption in to the mix and parents, no matter whether LGBT adoptees, traditional couples, or single parents, and their child can be left with a difficult period of time on their hands.
To navigate these difficult times in the best way possible, adoptive parents need to implement strong parenting skills to help their child navigate these changes, particularly if they’ve come from a troubled past or difficult start to life.
Factors Which Could Impact the Teenage Years
Factors such as prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol, neglect in their early years, or acts of trauma or abuse can have a strong impact on the way a child’s brain develops. However, with strong parenting at critical developmental stages, a child can rise above their past and step forward into their bright future.
All parents should make their primary parenting goal to build up their child to the best they can be. Many of these tips relate to all parents, however, adoptive parents may need to focus more intensely on one or more of these areas.
To Encourage Brain Development
- Expose your teen to activities which are healthy on a physical, social, and cultural level
- Allow your child time to engage in solitary activities, but ensure isolated or passive activities have reasonable time limitations.
- Encourage your child to try new things
- Let your teen have an active role in making decisions
- If you suspect developmental delays, seek professional advice as soon as possible
How to Help Teens Heal From Trauma
- Be sure you both physically and emotionally available
- Identify the trauma triggers and work with your child to understand and manage them
- Offer emotional freedom by allowing your teen to work through and express their emotions
- If you feel the problems are beyond your ability, do not be afraid to seek professional guidance
How to Help with Identity Formation
With adopted teens, this can be the most important element of their adolescence. They may be exploring their gender or sexual identity, and in the case of LGBT adoption, may be understanding the differences between their family dynamic and others. They may also become curious about their biological parents.
- Have open conversations about the teen’s biological parents
- Create or work with your child on their life book
- Help your child understand their heritage
- Allow opportunities to interact with others of their own age
- Highlight the similarities between you and your adopted child
- Have open conversations about intimacy and sexuality
No One’s Perfect
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all have moments in our parenting journey we may not be proud of, but with work and open conversations between you and your child, you’ll find that, given time, things will start to fall into place.