Teaching the Way of Love (TWL) is a program for Catholic parents that encourages and empowers them to embrace their role as the primary educators of their children, especially in the areas of moral and personal development.

Parenting Through Puberty

It’s time to strap on extra fortitude and temperance – the teen years are about to begin! Parenting children between the ages of 9-12 requires more understanding, foresight and strategy than ever because children in this stage of life begin the complex and sometimes unsettling process of becoming adults. Every aspect of their being is about to undergo a process of change. And, whether you like it or not, whether you find it easy or not, whether you want this to happen or not, it is your obligation to walk with your children and guide them towards an adult life that is pleasing to God.

Probably the most difficult part of parenting a child at this time is the fact that God’s timing for full maturation is inconsistent – nothing is normal. Some children develop slowly – others quickly. If you think this is confusing for you as an adult, remember that the child is just as perplexed (if not more so).

The most visible signs of emerging adulthood typically are physical; growth spurt, body shape changes, additional body hair. Don’t be fooled that the ‘external’ body is the only thing that is developing. Internal organs are also changing. In particular, the brain is also undergoing acute differentiation. Simplistically, the brain is experiencing a ‘rewiring’ that has to occur so that your child will not only look like an adult but also think like and adult.

With the changes in the brain, parents will become aware that the personal, social, intellectual, moral and spiritual components of the child will also mature. (Again, there is no ‘normal’ progression – God intends this process to be unique in each child.) Parents will notice the child will want more independence, have more passionate opinions, desire more attention from members of the opposite gender, be more emotional and spend more time pondering life.

Be not afraid of this age span! Engage in the process – hang in there for the long haul – commit to being there both now and forever. Embrace both the challenges and the blessings that are in your future. Your rewards will be great in heaven. Let's first take a look at how families can accomplish Saint Pope John Paul II's tasks of the family as children reach puberty, so they can continue to grow in their vocation as Christian families!

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