How to give your teen space while staying close

SuEllen Hamkins, MD Psychiatrist & Author, shares advice for parents on ways that they can give their teen space while remaining close to them
Advice For Parenting Teens | How To Stay Close To Your Teen While Giving Them Space | Kids in the House
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How to give your teen space while staying close

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When your daughter says she wants space, she doesn’t mean outer space. What she means is she wants you to make space for her in the world and in your heart for her to become who she is. And she wants you right there, supporting her and being present. If your daughter seems to be pulling away, first ask yourself, “Is she developing a new aspect of her identity?” If she is worried whether or not your approve of her, she may pull away. So what you can do is convey your support in a low key and indirect way – whether she is thinking of joining a garage band or exploring her sexual orientation. Another thing you can do if your daughter seems to be pulling away is to create multigenerational activities – like a mother daughter camping trip, or going on a trip with another family together. Finally, you can actually support your connection with your daughter by supporting her autonomy. It’s actually a way for you to stay connected with her, to support her in going off in the world and doing new things.

SuEllen Hamkins, MD Psychiatrist & Author, shares advice for parents on ways that they can give their teen space while remaining close to them

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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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