Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Space of My Own

by Linda Shaw
When I first saw the swath of blue, I cringed. My son’s choice for his room was a dark teal. He also wanted to paint a complementary lime green stripe around the room, but I managed to subdue his creative streak with a “Let’s see how this color works first.”

Teenagers need their own space. As they grow their need for expression expands, and they begin to make choices independent of parents and family. They are learning to define their identity. The first safe place that this can occur is within the walls of their own room.

Why is it important for Teens to have “a space of their own”?

Adolescents need privacy. Privacy allows them to discover the person within. In their own space they can be alone, ponder emotional dramas and work out their relationships with parents and peers. By giving a child a private space parents encourage their adolescent to experiment with different personalities, daydream, plan, create, perform, and become comfortable with their own thoughts and feelings.

What if I do not like what my child puts on their walls?

It is normal for teens to test parents with choices vastly different from family norms. If your teen places something objectionable on their wall (i.e. posters with drug paraphernalia in the background) before insisting that it come down, ask them why they like it or what drew them to it? Many teens are naïve to their parents extended interpretations of iconic art. Many simply like their choices because of media-popularity, color schemes, or because it helps them identify with peers. The idea of moral undertones is still new to them. By talking to your child about what they choose to decorate their room with parents can have a positive influence on what they see every night and morning.

How can parents influence the decorative choices within their teen’s room?

Teens enjoy seeing their accomplishments displayed. If a son is involved in Scouts, consider using some wall space to display scouting awards. Other positive influences would be sport heroes, professional team posters, or even photos of cherished family or friend memories. A teen’s stylistic choice of displayed items will help encourage the direction of your teen’s life path. Items act as extensions of the identity your teen is considering.

What are some family rules with regards to a teen’s room?

Because the room creates a private space for your teen, privacy rules should apply. This means they should be expected to be able to determine who comes in their room and when. Expectation with regards to what is allowed within the room depends on family culture. Televisions, computers, cell phones, stereo’s and gaming systems depend on parenting and family situations. Rules that apply generally to the family should not be exempt because of privacy.

Adolescence is a time of change where teens are creating their own individual style, exploring new interests, and understanding their passions. Wise parents understand their teens need to pull away and become their own person. Together both teen and parent can create a space a teen will want to spend time in.

What are some ways that you have helped your child define his “own space”?

What are your feelings about electronics in a teen’s personal space?



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