What Puberty Taught Me About Myself and My Parents
Originally Published: October 3, 2017
Revised: January 3, 2019
Puberty can be rough—really rough. Hormones roller-coast through your body, hair grows in places it wasn’t growing before, and then there are periods, acne, body odor, growth spurts or waiting for growth spurts that never happen. As we ride the wave of puberty, we also have to deal with intense emotions and the overall state of confusion that can come with them.
Puberty and the sudden urge to be independent made me realize that I was my parents’ version of myself.
Who Am I?
For a few years after I turned 13, I felt like I was wandering in a fog of uncertainty. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to be. My identity had always been shaped by the values my parents had instilled in me. My friends were good kids because my parents liked “good influences.” I liked boys because, well, that’s the way it was “supposed” to be.
My parents were strict but not overly strict. They didn’t push or force things, but they always seemed to have this ideal for me. My parents wanted me to date someone who was well behaved, dressed nicely and had a “dignified appearance.” I hated it; it wasn’t fair that I had to date someone they approved of when I was the one who was going to be in the relationship, not them.
Puberty and the sudden urge to be independent made me realize that I was my parents’ version of myself. Although I didn’t hate it, I suddenly felt the need to find my own version of me, through my own experiences. Yet how could I go against the norms and beliefs of my parents?
This stage of my life created a rift with my parents. By the time I was 14 or 15, I felt like an adult. If I was old enough to get my period, then I was old enough to think and act for myself. My parents didn’t see it that way. I felt like they could not understand me, and we drifted apart.
One side of me wanted to do what I felt like and the other side wanted to respect my parents and follow their ideals, to show them gratitude for raising me with care. If it was hard for me, who was just conflicted about who I could date, I can imagine how difficult it can be for teens who have to come out to their parents as gay, lesbian or transgender. I’m aware that some families are not as understanding and being true to yourself can be harder because of it.
Most of us want and need our family’s approval and support, so it can be harder to do things if they don’t agree with our decisions. I think that staying true to yourself can ultimately make you happier. But it’s not always so easy. Talking and communicating with your parents is a good step in making your needs and desires heard (and hearing theirs). I used to resort to getting angry and not talking to my parents for a while. Now I find it easier to talk to them about stuff like dating because I’ve discussed with them what kind of person I like. They’ve pretty much accepted it at this point. But it wouldn’t have been easy without communicating.
I also learned that my parents want the best for me. I think they thought they could protect me if I went out with guys that looked like “nice young men” in their opinion. But they learned to trust me and my judgment more. If your parents don’t understand, then respect their decision. Perhaps you don’t have to change yourself based on what they think and can be true to yourself based on what you think.
For me, on the other side of puberty, things look clearer. As I start college, I realize that maturity doesn’t come just because you get your period. It comes by experiencing everything that goes along with puberty and learning from it.
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