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Making Healthy Families

By Gayle Peterson, Ph.D.

Excerpt from Making Healthy Families
Part Three: Crisis and Transformation on the Family Life Cycle
Chapter Eight: Raising Adolescents: The Transformation of the Family

Available for purchase online at Amazon.com

The presence of adolescents in the family precipitates a transformation. No longer children, and not yet adults, teens waver betwixt and between, as they prepare to leave home and establish independent lives. Unlike younger years, teenagers are making choices that will have an effect on the rest of their lives. The stakes are getting higher. The protected period of childhood is fading quickly.

The new family system is no longer just about caring for children, but also subject to new and independent ideas, styles, and philosophies for living brought home by their budding teenager. Adolescent development pressures the parent to evolve toward a new understanding of the differences of individuals in the family, especially where poignant issues of sexuality, career choice, and academic and social achievement are concerned.

Parents, too, may be experiencing pressures of their own involving identity. Mid-life issues may arise, and new career choices may loom for parents as they look ahead to the rest of their lives after their children leave the nest. Couples' intimacy issues reach a peak of intensity at this time, if marital conflicts remained unresolved while the children were growing up. And as if that were not enough, parents may be experiencing the stress of dealing with aging parents of their own! Unresolved dependency needs from childhood can surface for parents who have functioned well as providers for younger children, but are reminded of their own freedom looming at the horizon. The need to focus on their own growth and development as adults can become salient at a time when they are "sandwiched" in between the needs of the younger and the older generations simultaneously.

Family life evolves in a kind of "pressure cooker," which can make it hard to see the special and unique challenges of parenthood during this period. The questions and answers in this chapter illustrate the changes parents must make in parenting during this time, and the ways we may experience difficulty changing "gears" as adolescence arrives on the home front.......

Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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