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The downsides to the pandemic — and there have been many — are widely talked about. But are there also opportunities hidden in our response to life during the last year? One may be the chance to communicate more often and more deeply with your teenagers. The stress that has arisen from coping with a restricted lifestyle may give parents a welcome reason to begin a conversation. Feeling bad? Let’s talk about it.
In an article on the American Psychological Association’s website, Zara Adams notes that “Broadly, establishing autonomy is one of the key developmental tasks of adolescents, but the pandemic has limited opportunities to do so, for instance, by shifting adolescent learning from school to home and confining college students to their parents’ houses as many campuses remain shut down. A common challenge for families is to balance teens’ need for autonomy with other concerns, such as their safety, said Judith Smetana, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who studies development and family relationships.”
One way to encourage a teen’s autonomy while also promoting safe habits is by talking forthrightly about various issues. Adams interviewed a number of experts who advise parents to pay attention to the following topics:
- Monitoring media
- Checking in on mental health
- Talking about race and racism
- Bringing an open mind to sex discussions
For an in-depth discussion about each of these issues, see the full APA article here.