- Negative behavior: defensive, shy, withdrawn, uncommunicative.
How others perceive this teenager: rejecting, suspicious, mistrustful, apprehensive.
Inner feelings: angry, resentful insecure, disappointed
- Negative behavior: judging, criticizing, disapproving.
How others perceive this teenager: resentful, bitter, indignant.
Inner feelings: overly self-critical, insecure, angry.
Unfortunately we rely on our outer-world impressions of other people to try to figure out who they are, and that doesn’t necessarily give us the full picture of their personality. It’s always helpful for parents to go one step below the surface and explore what’s inside their child’s inner world. Debbie, for example, presents herself as a rebellious teenager who has a disregard for her parent’s religious and cultural sensibilities. She tends to choose clothing that her mother dislikes, and she loves testing boundaries. Through her outer world, Debbie is known for her risky behavior and always seems to be getting into trouble with her teachers. But this is only half the picture. To help a girl like Debbie, we need to go beyond the surface and discover what’s really going on inside.
To begin, let’s take a look at some of the inner-world issues that exist at the core of teenagers’ psyches that may be influencing how they behave with their parents. Although many theories describe this hidden world, we’ll focus on several areas that can be addressed by parents.
The five dimensions are self-esteem, individuality, love and friendship, control, and meaning. As we explore each of these categories, parents should try to evaluate whether or not they are responsive to these specific emotional needs. A short relationship test question will appear at the end of each upcoming section to help parents understand the strengths and weaknesses in their relationship with their teenager.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.