Practical Tips for Lesbian and Gay Parents Raising Teenagers
No doubt adolescence is tough. And for teens growing-up in lesbian and gay households, it can be even tougher. Nevertheless, lesbian and gay parents who are aware of the particular challenges their teens are likely to face can respond with a set of interventions that are meaningful as they are practical. Delivered thoughtfully, these focused actions can help lesbian and gay parents ease the stress of a sometimes burdensome period of family life.
Lesbian and gay parents can expect that their teens will face some challenging issues related to their entry into adolescence. They might also expect the possibility of their teens encountering the social stigmas often associated with children who are raised within non-traditional families. Therefore, setting a foundation of sound preparation, support and instruction can enable lesbian and gay parents to increase positive developmental outcomes for their adolescent sons and daughters.
Adolescence: A Time for Questioning
Who am I? Do I fit in? Will someone else love me besides my parents? Can I make it on my own? Am I straight or gay? These are just a few of the questions many teenagers will pose to themselves and others during the adolescent time of their lives. Discovering the answers to these questions is, in the simplest of terms, the winning goal every teenager must score before moving on to a fully integrated adult life.
In fact, every teenager is uniquely positioned to respond to various issues of personal growth and development. Adolescence is the very time for this. The following is a list of generally accepted principles of adolescence; identifiable tasks created to help explain what it is a teenager must address during this stage of their personal development:
- To achieve a new level of closeness and trust with peers,
- To gain independence from parents and to develop a new status within the family,
- To develop a sense of personal identity,
- To address issues of sexuality,
- To acquire a set of values and ethics to guide behavior, and
- To move toward autonomy in the world.
Accomplishment of these monumental tasks settles upon the teenager’s development of an unwavering sense of identity, a stable sense of who they are in relationship to the rest of the world. Once they accomplish this, they are better equipped to begin addressing what will be the responsibilities and freedoms of their adult lives.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association of Social Workers.
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