The National Parenting Center

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Teens Seeking Closeness

A letter I received from a mother in Pennsylvania told the tale of her 15-year-old daughter who, she explained punctuates all her conversations with finger pokes and punches, and she leans into the mother or pulls on me whenever she wants to say something. Most of the time the daughter tries to pass this off as a joke. The mother divorced the father seven years earlier and had been living with the child ever since. She explained that the marriage did not demonstrate much if any physicality.
I explained to her that if the daughter did not see a physical demonstration of love between herself and the ex-husband and if she did not receive enough of the hugs and roughhousing that dads often do with their kids, it probably does have something to do with her behavior. All children need appropriate and nurturing touches.
With the divorce their relationship changed. The daughter’s role of mom’s best friend and confidant may have forced her to be an adult when what she really needed most was to be a child, needing to be hugged and comforted. Now she may be trying to retrieve what she didn’t get.
At 15, she is experiencing hormone changes that increase the need for physical contact and intimacy. Allow your children to maintain the ability to get close to you. They need the warmth and nurturing that only a parent can give. Even as they grow and show increasing signs of ambivalence they will still welcome the opportunity to share a good hug.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com

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