Tuesday night we were blessed to learn from the experience of Elizabeth Gantner as she spoke to many of us on the sensitive topic of adolescence. She imparted a wealth of insight garnered over her twenty-two years of Waldorf teaching, as well as from the ups and downs of raising three boys. We learned much about the natural, healthy steps children pass through as they develop, and what to expect when they approach adolescence. This is when independent thinking, idealism, and abstract concepts come to the forefront. It is also a time of great change as their bodies develop, as hormones begin coursing through them, and as they seek to determine who they are, independent of mom, dad, school, or expectations. They may go through a period of questioning everything, of rejecting things they were passionate about before. They may try on new personalities, essentially trying on new selves, just to see how they fit. They are very open to and seeking love during this phase of their lives, despite seeming walled off at times.
Trust is essential during this transition—they need at least one adult they can openly talk with, who is able to listen to anything they wish to share, without jumping in to direct or give unsolicited advice. They also need hope for the future, a sense of purpose in life, and a willingness to do for others. Parents must set firm boundaries for their children to move within, and be consistent with those boundaries—giving in will not do them any favors. Parents should not expect or demand to be liked during these years, but should expect respect. Take comfort, parents—there is a light at the end of the tunnel; they will come back around, in time.
Thank you to everyone who came out for our Community Enrichment evening; we had an excellent turn out. Many thanks to Elizabeth Gantner for her time, perspective, humor, expertise, and advice.