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Your little girl is now a teen. Yesterday, she was playing “pretend” in dress-up clothes, pink everywhere. Today? She’s still decorating with fanciful fairies but she's added dragons and skulls as well. And she's talking about a room redo in shades of black!
Do you find yourself exclaiming, “What happened to my princess?!?”
When the boss asked me to write on this topic, I needed a little help in thinking this one through. Since our home is bursting with boys, I checked in with our friend and colleague, Amy, a recent Master’s grad in Psychology. (Congrats, Amy!) However, it wasn't her expert opinion that I was seeking, it was to chat with her about some of her personal experiences. You see, Amy was part of one of those "alternative groups" during her teenage years.
“We were like the island of misfit toys,” Amy relates. "Rebellion wasn't the point. It was more about acceptance within a peer group. I could be a bit goofy and that turned off the popular crowd. The alternative group wasn't judgmental; they accepted me the way I was.”
As a counselor, Amy can understand the confusion that parents feel when their child does a sudden 180 turn. (It sure wasn't easy for her mom, she notes.) Without meaning to, parents can quickly go from being their kids' number one fan to their number one critic. "Students are searching for a place where they fit in. And when they do find that fit, perhaps it’s with a group that families aren't happy with," Amy explained. "Suddenly, kids can find themselves conflicted. They've finally found a group that accepts who they are but now they aren't receiving that same acceptance from their families. Sometimes they are even being injured by comments that are well meaning but come across too harsh."
So what should a worried parent do?, I asked. “Take comfort in knowing that this is a typical growing pain," Amy advises. "Peer group acceptance is a part of teenage development; something that they won’t need as much as they mature." The best thing parents can do, she says, is support their child in their search for identity.
“For me," Amy concludes, “the need to be a societal outcast toned down as I began to be comfortable with who I was, towards the end of high school. I think then my parents finally let out the breath they'd been holding for a long time.”
So what's the bottom line? Your princess never really left the palace. She's just maturing; finding her own way. (Whew!) What to do? Just keep those lines of communication open. Acknowledge and celebrate your differences. And together, explore her changing tastes in music, clothes, and decor. You both may find more than a few things to agree on for a change!
For some great ideas to share, take a look at our Medieval Decor Collection.