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Developmental tasks of teens AND parents

Teens, like all of us, have specific developmental tasks that they are working on. Primarily these have to do with separating from the family, establishing an identity and developing mastery over the world around them. This may look like eye rolls or sound like "you just don't get what it's like now!" Your chatty seven year old may no longer be interested in telling you about his day. Your trusting little girl may not be asking for help figuring things out anymore. They need to do this.

They need to separate from the family and establish who they are out in the rest of the world. They need to try on different ways of being just like they are trying on different types of clothes, makeup, hair. They need to figure things out on their own so they can feel mastery over their lives and their ability to survive without you.

The hardest thing for parents to do is to understand and respect all of this while continuing to be lovingly, patiently, present for their kids. It's still important to set limits for example. But you may not be able to get away with "because I say so" anymore. Instead you may need to be very clear about the rationale behind those limits. This can also be an opportunity for parents to reexamine and articulate their values to and with their children.

And always keep these wise words by the neuroscientist Jay Geidd in mind: " The more technical and more advanced the science becomes, often the more it leads us back to the same very basic tenets of spending loving, quality time with our children.

For more of Jay Giedd, M.D. at NIMH talking about the developing adolescent brain and the new multi-media world in which we live go to www.nimh.nih.gov/media/video/giedd.shtml

Jenny Putnam, LICSW

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and not dwelling in the past or projecting into the future. With all the distractions we have today with smart phones, laptops, iPads and iPods, it’s no wonder that Americans report feeling stressed, scattered and overwhelmed. Lucky for us, the most recent research by neuroscientists shows that 10 minutes of meditation a day is all that is required to have positive results. Patients have reported significant reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms after a mindfulness intervention such as MBCT (Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy) or from a daily meditation practice. 

But for some of us even that can be challenging. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher and co-founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. When I shared with her my struggles with meditation she said to strive for “many moments, many times a day.” So whether it’s 10 minutes or more a day or many moments a day, it’s worth a try to see if you can experience the positive results from practicing mindfulness. 

For those who are interested in learning more about meditation or for those interested in deepening their meditation practice, Insight Meditation Center in Cambridge, MA offers workshops, classes and sittings throughout the week. They can be contacted at www.cimc.info/.

Sheila Scott Gordon LICSW