In the world of Waldorf homeschoolers, there is a lot of press about the developmental changes surrounding the six/seven year old, the nine year old, and sometimes a little about the twelve year old. However, the fifteen/sixteen year change is rarely mentioned on blogs or websites. I guess there is no one left Waldorf homeschooling by then!
I have a back post on the sixteen year change, and other back posts on the fifteen year old, but today I really wanted to focus on that transformation. It could truly be THE most important developmental shift to occur for a child; I think because it catapaults the child into the more adult world than ever before. And whilst this change has hints of the nine year change, I think it has its own dynamic and importance.
Here is why: I see a lot of adults these days that are not very good at adulting. The fact that we even have a term called “adulting” in the United States is probably a good indication that people are struggling with it. Oh sure, we all struggle with it at times, and I think more because many of us have lost the sense of our elders and many of our families are fragmented, so being in our 20s- up to age 50 sometimes is fraught with more difficulties than ever before as there is no one to ask about our adult challenges!
So, I think this change is super important in this day and age. Please, please, don’t hold your child back from this change by doing so much for them and denying them the consequences of their actions. Please, please do give your more phlegmatic children who need a little push into more independence that push that they need. Here are some things to consider:
Help structure your home so that your teens have freedom but also RESPONSIBILITY. I see many parents jumping into the “freedom” part – no boundaries, a lot of handing things to their children that the teenager doesn’t have to work for – but little in the way of RESPONSIBILITY. Summer jobs are going by the wayside, according to this article from June 2017 in The Atlantic. Saving up to earn a car is no longer done a lot. I actually don’t think it is laziness, as some in the media have purported (which is something I think every generation since The Greatest Generation has probably said about the upcoming youngsters). Life really is different today – from most of the jobs in my area that used to be held by teen now being held by retirees to the need to excel in so many areas early to get into a “good college” – that teens have a different set of pressures than even twenty years ago.
Help your teen navigate this stress. Some teens were published in the UK Guardian in March 2014 about how they feel about the world and the place of teenagers in it. This absolutely could be the most incredible generation yet, but the stresses of the world seem to weigh more heavily upon this generation, just like it does upon us, because of the immediacy of social media and media in general. The weight of events in countries far away seems just as impressive as the ones in our backyard. It is a lot for us to handle, and it is a lot for teens to handle.
Help your teens learn boundaries. The only way this can happen is if YOU have boundaries, and to help your teen not only by modeling but by helping them work with self-initiation, motivation, persistence, self-regulation, and self-control. Many parents seem to struggle with this, so let me give you a little list as to why boundaries are important. Adults with good boundaries can do things such as:
Listen to other people and respect other people’s “no’s” and feelings
Set limits on their own behavior or any impulses that would be self-destructive
Set limits on toxic people
Accomplish goals and tasks
Acheive healthy intimacy with othersBe honest with others
Can solve conflicts in a constructive way
Hopefully these skills will lead to not only a life of satisfaction and adventure and whatever the individual wants life to be, but also an ability to form relationships, lead a family in a healthy way, provide physically for themselves and a family, be open with their own gifts in helping humanity, and to be brave and courageous in dealing with personal matters and in situations of the world and societal structures where help is needed.