Parenting the Adopted Teenager
Parenting the adopted teen can be complex and challenging. Teens are going through the period of self-discovery and identity. These years of figuring things out can be tough, especially for the adopted teenager.
The teen by now should already have been told that he or she is adopted. If the teen is unaware of being adopted, the parent should open the channels of communication sooner than later, to avoid the feeling of betrayal, disappointment and lack of trust that will follow if the teen inadvertently finds out from another source.
The Challenges of the Teen Years
First of all, when parenting an adopted teenager, you need to understand the unique issues you may face. The adopted teenager may develop some anger about the fact that he is adopted, and therefore different from his peers. This may be more obvious if the teen is from a different racial or ethnic background.
The adoptive parents need to acknowledge these differences and help the teen learn more about his biological background. Communication is key, and the adoptive parents should give the teen as much information as he can handle.
The parents should also be honest about drug and alcohol use and other risk-taking behaviors that may have existed in the biological family, especially since some of these characteristics can be genetically inherited. Making the teen aware of these potentially life changing traits can empower the teen to make the right choices in life.
Be alert to the development of psychological issues like depression, bipolar disorder and hyperactivity disorder, especially if there is a family history of this in the biological family. Some teens may develop excessive acting out and misbehavior, which may all be part of the anxiety of dealing with the fact that they are adopted. The adoptive parents will have to be patient and supportive, whilst still giving the teen some space. Professional help may be necessary at this point.
Fear of Separation
One of the main issues that you may encounter when it comes to parenting an adopted teenager is the fear of separation. Your teen may be more anxious and fearful about the normal physical and emotional separation that occurs during this period. He may fear rejection from his adoptive parents if he feels rejected by his biological parents.
Parents may also fear rejection, especially if the teen wants to know where he came from, and questions whether he really belongs. Be willing to let your teen seek out more information about the biological family if he so desires. This in no way implies that you are not good parent, It is a sign of emotional growth and self identity in the teen. Rest assured, most teens with adoptive parents still recognize them as their parents, even if they develop relationships with their biological parents.
Patience and Understanding Are Imperative
Although there are indeed many different issues when parenting the adopted teenager, with patience and understanding, you and your teen can both work through these turbulent years.
Parenting the adopted teenager can bring abundant joy and fulfillment to both the parent and teen when challenges are met with love, support, honesty and open communication.
You can live a fulfilled and loving life with your adopted teen when you understand the issues and work them out together.
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