Balancing Friendship and Parenting With Your Adopted Teenager

Young women go through many emotional, social, and physical changes during their teenage years that can cause shifts in the relationship they have with their parents and peers. Growing up means going through uncomfortable situations, and most parents want to shield their children from that pain. Adoptive parents who try to hand-hold their children through adolescence and early adulthood can find this transition difficult. Striking a balance between friendship with your adopted daughter and the responsibilities of parenthood is not always easy.

Sheltering your teen girl from emotional distress by strictly controlling her environment can lead to her acting out or engaging in destructive behaviors. You can improve your daughter’s self-efficacy and self-confidence without risking your relationship by standing beside her as a trusted confidant and friend while still being a good parental figure.

Encourage Your Daughter to Mature and Grow

At a certain point, as a loving parent, you must step back and allow your adopted child to explore and grow on her own. At the same time, you must do this while maintaining healthy boundaries and being a haven she can retreat to when things get overwhelming. By providing your child with a nurturing and supportive environment, you allow her to safely experience the successes and failures that come with teenagedom, including:

  • Dating and romantic relationships
  • Making new friends
  • Physical and emotional changes
  • Different school challenges
  • New freedoms and responsibilities

Parental involvement is crucial during the teenage years. The Journal of Early Adolescents reported that “According to attachment theorists, the child who receives responsive and sensitive parenting from the primary caregiver forms an internal working model of that caregiver as trustworthy and dependable when needed and develops a model of the self as someone who is worthy of such care.” You can show your child that they are worthy of care and healthy relationships while giving her room to mature and develop her own personality.

Respect Their Choices While Maintaining Boundaries

There will be times when you need to put your foot down for your daughter’s health and safety. Parenthood always takes priority, but you will need to learn when she needs a friend and when to assert your power. You can maintain a stable family dynamic and home environment by ensuring your adopted child knows they can reach out to you if they need anything but must still recognize your authority. Show your support by providing your child with the following:

  • Acceptance
  • Understanding
  • Unconditional love
  • Attention

Clear boundaries and open communication are essential to a healthy relationship. Make sure they know that your motivation is to keep them safe. As a friend, you can model healthy social boundaries and help them develop valuable skills that will make it easier for them to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities. Be a safe haven for your teenager by providing them with a space where they feel loved and can form healthy bonds that will translate to other social relationships.

Maintaining Accountability and Structure

Teenagers should be held accountable for their choices to show them the link between behaviors and real-world consequences. Many adoptive parents feel guilty when their children start acting out, and they must step in and remove some of their child’s freedoms. The teen years typically include moments of rebellion. More than likely, your daughter will test some of the boundaries you establish to see what she can get away with. Some common ways she may do this include:

  • Self-isolating from the family
  • Ignoring direct requests
  • Making questionable choices
  • Participating in risk-taking behaviors

Give her the space to change and find her own identity while maintaining a safe and supportive living space and a healthy parent-child relationship. You can teach her responsibility and accountability by keeping a structured set of house rules.

Assign Greater Responsibilities

Show your child that you respect her as a growing young adult by assigning greater responsibilities inside and outside the home. You can prepare her for adulthood by slowly increasing the amount of responsibility she has.

For example, give your daughter more chores so she can see how her actions affect the entire household if she doesn’t follow through. Raise the stakes but make sure all expectations are realistic. Set her up to succeed and be patient if she struggles with the transition. Provide friendly advice on how to cope with various issues she may encounter in her newfound independence.

Let Your Teenager Explore New Social Dynamics

Your teenager will explore various social dynamics and how they relate to the world around them. Adapting your parenting style to meet their new desire for independence will allow your adopted daughter to learn and grow while still having access to a space where she can retreat and get help if she encounters unexpected situations. You are her friend and protector; you can use that unique relationship to give her valuable insights and help her grow and mature into a healthy young adult. Your teen girl will be better adjusted during adulthood if she has a steady foundation during her teen and young adult years.

Children transitioning into young adulthood benefit from close relationships with their parents. Parenthood also involves watching out for your child’s best interest and saving them from themselves in some instances. You can give your teen daughter instruction and expect to be respected while still maintaining a friendship with her. At Havenwood Academy, we use educational classes and other tools to help teen girls and their parents find the balance between parenting and friendship to ensure you continue to provide your child with the support she needs to mature. Parents with daughters who struggle with mental health issues or trauma often find it challenging to provide support and manage poor behavioral symptoms. Havenwood provides assessments and various therapeutic techniques for each girl’s unique mental and behavioral health needs. To find out more about our facility and the programs we offer, call our office today at (435) 586-2500.


Think Havenwood Might Be For You?

We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.