Strains on the Relationship
The negative attitude, rebellion, and early experimentation of early adolescence take a psychological toll on the relationship between you and your son or daughter. The old parent/child relationship has been transformed in some predictable ways. The closeness you used to feel has given way to more distance. There are more disagreements to bridge than there used to be. You feel more dissatisfied with each other, former contentment giving way to more criticism on both sides.
Greater distrust between you leads to more questioning — from you for more information about what's going on, from your teenager for more justification of your rules and decisions. All the while, increasing differences are creating more intolerance between you in place of the mutual acceptance that was the order of the day in childhood.
Under no circumstances should you tell your teenager that he or she is “only going through a phase.” This is a dismissive statement. It is insulting. You wouldn't tell someone struggling with the infirmities of aging that he or she is “only going through a phase.”
By mid-adolescence, parent and teenager may have a more disaffected relationship. Each side develops a list of common complaints against the other. Parents will often charge, “You're too young to understand, too adventurous, too untrustworthy, too uncommunicative, too unhelpful, too messy, too irritating, too unconcerned with family, too unreliable, and too interested in bad music.”
Teenagers will often charge in return, “Well, you're too old to understand, too protective, too untrusting, too prying, too demanding, too fussy, too easily upset, too concerned with family, too controlling, and too ignorant of good music.”
When these complaints rule the relationship, a healthy mutual dislike can sometimes develop between the parents, who won't stop insisting on responsibility, and the teenager, who won't stop pushing for freedom. To keep this dislike from becoming unhealthy, keep a larger positive perspective and do not use hurtful language or say hurtful things.