Is it normal for a parent’s relationship with a child to take on a different tone during the teen years? I was always close to my daughter in the past, but things aren’t the same since she became a teenager. I can’t connect with her anymore – she’s always texting or talking to friends on her cell phone. I feel as if I’ve lost something precious. What should I do?

When a child enters the teen years, it’s normal for them to begin pulling away from parents and other family members while also identifying more closely with friends and peers. Psychologists call this process separation and individuation. It’s part of what prepares a child to enter adulthood. Your daughter is exploring what it means to become her own person.

Naturally, this process can be hard on parents. Mom in particular sometimes feels as if she’s losing the closeness she’s enjoyed with her child since birth and infancy. These changes can be especially difficult for single mothers or women who don’t have good relationships with their husbands. In the absence of warm and supportive adult companionship, they may look to their children to meet all of their needs for emotional intimacy.

Only you know the details of your situation. If there are explainable sources of tension in your relationship with your daughter – if, for example, she’s engaging in rebellious or dangerous behavior – you’ll want to spend some time dealing with these issues directly. If, however, you feel that your pain is something out of the ordinary or that you’re struggling unnecessarily during this time of transition, it might be worth asking yourself if you’ve become too dependent upon your daughter. In that case, you need to understand that this isn’t healthy for you or your child. It may even be part of the reason she’s pulling away from you.

If your marriage isn’t satisfying and fulfilling, this could be a big part of the problem. If you suspect that this may be a factor, we’d encourage you to seek professional help to work on your marital relationship. Strengthening your marriage will not only benefit you and your husband, it will help your daughter as well. Call us. RezilientKidz Counseling staff will be happy to discuss your marital issues with you over the phone. We can also provide you with a list of referrals to licensed therapists in your area.

If you’re a single parent, it’s crucial that you begin to pursue close, nurturing relationships with other adults. Remember, Asset #3: Other Adult Relationship – as well as all 40 Developmental Assets – is not something you can teach your child unless you understand and model it yourself. Perhaps you know a few women at church who could help meet this need in your life. In the event that you don’t have any close female friends, we’d urge you to seek these types of relationships whether it be through a sports team, community group, faith‐based organization or women’s social club. As a side benefit, you may actually end up improving your relationship with your daughter by turning to your peers for affirmation and support. It’s possible that all she wants is to be released from the necessity to act as your sole confidant and support. Once that pressure is removed, the door may suddenly open to a healthier parent‐teen relationship in the future.