From superparent to super you: Finding yourself again

It can feel quite the wild ride when your child hits their tween years. With all the drama, laughter and eye-rolls, have you ever considered how this journey impacts the person at the helm – you? 


Yes, you! The superhero behind the scenes who makes sure the homework is done and the fridge is stocked with snacks. It's time to give yourself some of the spotlight.

Being a parent or carer is not just about navigating the teen landscape; it's about embracing your journey of growth and self-discovery alongside your kid's.

Finding yourself again 

Shifting roles

The dynamics between you and your teen change during adolescence, meaning you must adapt your role as they seek more independence. Think of yourself more as a guide than a caretaker.

Emotional rollercoaster

As your tweens and teens go through puberty and adolescence, your sense of self can be impacted. Being swept along by someone else's mood swings is exhausting and often needs perspective, which can feel challenging when you're being blasted with a wave of emotion from your teen. And then they tell you to 'chill out'. What feels like constant conflicts and growing pains generally take their toll on your emotional well-being. 

Letting go

Letting go of control can be tricky. You know you need to let your teenager make their own decisions, but this process can profoundly affect your identity as you balance guidance and autonomy. The parents I work with often express the challenges of this balance, as it's constantly changing and evolving in a non-linear fashion as your teen ages. It's not just you feeling this way; many parents feel the same way, and it's OK to experience these struggles.

Communication challenges

It can feel like you are conversing with an (often more than one) entirely different entity from the primary-age kid you used to have. Communication barriers often arise during adolescence, and finding new ways to connect with your teenager can be a journey of self-discovery for parents. 

Help create an environment where your teen feels heard and understood with:

Active listening:

  • Practice active listening by giving your full attention when your teen is talking. Put away distractions like phones or other devices.
  • Reflect back on what you've heard to ensure you understand correctly. This not only demonstrates attentiveness but also clarifies any potential misunderstandings.

Open-ended questions:

  • Instead of asking closed questions that prompt simple "yes" or "no" answers, pose open-ended questions to encourage your teen to share more about their thoughts and feelings.
  • For example, instead of asking, "Did you have a good day?" you might ask, "What was the best part of your day?" This invites a more detailed and meaningful response.
  • You might even make this into a game, asking ice-breaker questions like "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" or "Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people's minds?" - I've worked with a lot of young people in my time. You should never underestimate the power of an ice-breaker!

Finding common ground:

  • Identify shared interests or activities they are passionate about, whether a hobby, sport, or TV show. 
  • Be open to their interests, even if they differ from your own. Showing genuine curiosity about their world builds a sense of connection.

Remember that building better communication is a gradual process -  patience is key. 

Parental peer pressure

The societal expectations and pressures that parents face during their children's adolescence are huge and all around us. Your teen will likely remind you how you measure up as a parent. This is hard enough, but you also no longer get an accurate picture of how other parents are managing, as you're less likely to see them as regularly as when your kids were little. This will also take a toll on how you view yourself. And don't get me started on social media for making you feel everyone is breezing through. Trust me, they're not - every parent has their up-and-down days. 

Recognise that it's OK to set boundaries around your parenting choices. You don't need to conform to every societal expectation or comparison. Focus on your child's well-being - assess your parenting decisions based on their impact on your teenager rather than external perceptions.

What helps?


You must look after yourself - prioritise your well-being and mental health so you can truly be there for those who need you. I always use the analogy of the oxygen mask on a plane. We are told to put it on ourselves first for a reason- how can you help when you’re out of oxygen?

Rediscovering personal passions

Rediscover your interests and hobbies; what did you like doing as a kid? Have you considered joining an art class or taking up tap dancing? Now is the time. Maintaining a sense of who you are is vital as your children become self-sufficient. 

Support systems

Reach out to connect and for support from friends and family. A large part of our identity is who we hang out with... without the kids!

If you feel like you've lost yourself and are wondering who you are when you're not 'mum' or 'dad', counselling with me can help. Don't feel you have to work this out alone - I specialise in adolescent issues, so get in touch to see how we can work together.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People constantly rush, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted.

I specialise in supporting parents and carers as they navigate their child's tween and teenage years. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone

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