Why are teenage years the worst

Teenage years may be more stressful for parents than their children's infancy

15.02.2016

According to a recent study by Arizona State University, infancy may not be the most stressful period of their parenting career for mothers. After all, puberty or when children attend middle school is at least as challenging.

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Many assume that parents go through the worst times when their children are young. However, current research shows that parents have to master the far greater challenges when their children attend middle school.

Prof. Dr. Suniya Luthar and Lucia Cicolla explained that, apart from puberty, in middle school the school environment becomes more and more impersonal, grades and achievements matter more, and it becomes increasingly important for adolescents to be popular with their peers while at the same time striving to to distance oneself from their parents. In addition, children struggle with puberty and its consequences, such as hormones, acne and body changes. They become more willing to experiment, some try alcohol, drugs and have their first sexual experiences. All of this adds up to a turbulent time for adolescents, and therefore also for those who accompany them through this difficult time.

Parents are very concerned about risk taking among teenagers

Parents are particularly concerned that children will behave in a risky manner and put themselves in danger when the offspring reaches adolescence.
"From the mother's point of view, there is a lot of truth in the saying 'small children - small problems; big children - big problems'", believes Professor Suniya Luthar. "Caring for infants and toddlers is physically demanding. But with children in puberty, the demands on parents are far more complex and the risk of something 'going wrong' is much greater," adds Luthar.

Luthar and Cicolla examined more than 2,200 mostly well-educated mothers with their children and followed their development from infancy to the age of majority. They wanted to know how the personal well-being, parenting and perceptions of their own children changed over time. It was found that feelings of stress and depressive moods were stronger in mothers with children aged 12 to 14 than in mothers with infants or of already adult children. Teenagers can be very hurtful if, among other things, they roll their eyes, act aloof, and even show undisguised disdain for their parents. A cute and sweet child has become a "puberty".

For fathers and mothers, it is a balancing act to provide protection and security at the right moments, but also to leave space in good time without sacrificing boundaries.

Source: ScienceDaily, Arizona State University, Developmental Psychology