WHEN young people hit the teenage years and face the tasks of adolescence, in conjunction with all the physical and hormonal changes which occur, comes a massive change in their identity.
Adolescents move into a time of drastic change and conflict.
They reach a point where they have finished with certain tasks of childhood development, and take the first tentative steps into adulthood.
Parents often declare the teenage years are among the most challenging.
Loving a teenager through a time of storm and stress, rebellion and defiance can drive some parents to the point of despair.
Some parents start to distance themselves from their teenagers, telling themselves that they are moving into adulthood now and stepping back to allow them room to make their own mistakes.
In so doing the teenager may feel the parent withdraw from the way the child in them wants to be loved, and feel rejected, abandoned and alone.
Some parents will fear the dangers of the world and become overly-protective and restrictive.
A teenager will feel crushed and resentful of their parents as the emerging adult in them feels undermined.
Adolescence is a very important time for parents. It is a time to really face their own demons, their own self-doubt, their own identity, their own disappointments about life.
Those who haven't will find the naked exposure created by adolescents to be almost unbearable.
And in turn, the instinctual part of the very highly-attuned teenager will smell the weakness in their parents, and become terribly saddened and disillusioned by their parents, as they see themselves in their parents.
In an overwhelming tide of hormones they can start to act out of control.
They do this because they are looking to find a place where they belong.
Even if that place is with others who may do them harm. Even if this means becoming an outcast, or a loner, or a rebel, or a thug, or a person who is not even worthy of living.
At Teen Tribe, courageous parents come to face themselves.
To understand, support and love their kids, they have realised that they must understand, support, and love themselves.
Otherwise it feels like the life is drained away from them, and in return the adolescent will look towards the big bad world to find a place which matches how they feel about themselves.
Paul Stewart is a personal coach with Compassion Coaching, www.compassioncoaching.com.au, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle and Teen Tribe programs run through Hopelink 4979 3626.