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14th May 2024

‘They need you less and they push back’ – How to navigate life with a teenager

Sophie Collins


In the early years, your child relies on you heavily, and we often shape our social lives around their schedule

However, as they grow up and gain some independence, the dynamics of the parent-child relationship inevitably change, leaving many parents feeling uncertain about their role.

According to counselling psychologist, Leslie Shoemaker, this transition is marked by a natural inclination for children to assert their independence – especially during adolescence. 

“They need you less and they push back,” Shoemaker explained on Newstalk. “Anybody who has had someone moving into adolescence knows they push back – and that’s what they’re supposed to do.”

As parents navigate this new phase, they can find themselves at a crossroads, wondering how to fill the void left by their child’s diminishing reliance on them.

Shoemaker suggested that parents view this time as an opportunity for personal growth and exploration. 

“What kind of hobbies can we start to develop? What kind of interests do you have?” she asked. 

“Perhaps it’s taking an art class once a week – something like that. You start building up your own network.”

However, stepping out of your comfort zone can be daunting for some people. 

Shoemaker acknowledged this, and reminded parents of the many activities and passions they enjoyed before parenthood.

“Before you had kids, you were in college, you were working, you were doing these things,” she notes.

“Some of them would be passive but other things would be more active as well. I think it’s just reminding ourselves, ‘I can do this, I need to do this.'”

Despite the urge to reconnect with personal interests, Shoemaker emphasised the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective. 

“All of this should not mean you are cutting yourself completely from your children’s lives,” she clarifies. 

“I think it’s unreasonable for kids to expect that they’re never going to be discussed by their parents.” 

Instead, you’re simply building a new support network that includes family members, neighbours, and friends.

Ultimately, as children assert their independence, parents can use the opportunity to rediscover their own passions and pursuits, enriching their lives while maintaining a strong connection with their growing children.