So your teenager seems to be outgrowing and moving on, losing connection with his younger siblings.
What do you do about that? Well, let's talk about it today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and
families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the Group Private Practice Teen Therapy
Center and the non -profit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both in Woodland
Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I come to you live on Facebook to answer your parenting
questions, and of course, you can always see these videos a little bit later on on IGTV and YouTube.
But right now, we're live for all of you watching. Thanks for watching. Let's jump into today's
question. My 15 -year -old son has recently become a lot more focused on his friends and is much
less interested in engaging with his 12 -year -old sister. He used to play with her all the time,
and now he barely talks with
her. He's never mean, just distant. He laughs and jokes with his friends and girlfriend, but
is more somber when he's just with the family. It breaks my heart to see her loss and our mutual
realization that those days are the olden days. Do you have any advice as to how to maintain the
bond and support of a younger sibling who misses her, until now, best friend? Thank you for your
question. There's a lot to unpack here. First, let's talk about this fictional boy. It is normal
and common for teenagers to start pulling away and distancing themselves from their family
and starting to connect more with peers, girlfriends, friends, what have you. That is not uncommon.
And it's part of the individuation process of him becoming an adult. And if they never went through
this process, they probably never leave the house So it's really important that they start
reaching out to new friends now I'm not saying they should abandon their family relationships.
That is not what I'm saying Family relations
are important because they're what helps us bounce back because the kids will pull away and
they'll bounce back and pull away and bounce back But each time they pull away a little more a
little more kind of like we have a toddler who's just learning to walk and exploring and walking
away from the parents and coming back, walking away, coming back. Just teenagers doing it on
a bigger scale. And that's okay. This is part of developing the identity of an adolescent growing
into an adult. And I want you to think of the identity as a hat, okay? And so for the first 10, 12
years or so of your kid's existence, they wore one hat, the hat you gave them, right? But now that
he's 13, 14, 15, 16, he's trying on other hats. He's meeting new friends, liking different music,
you know, having different political ideas, whatever. He's trying all these different things
and these different identities. Each identity and each opinion is a different hat. And some
of these hats seem scary and uncomfortable to
parents because they're different. That's okay. Stay with me. It's not the end of the world.
Because once that teenager grows into an adult, roughly 25 years old, that teenager or that
person creates a hat. It's like a mishmash of all those hats put together. And all the different
patches of hats all the different identities the great thing is the biggest patch of that hat
is your patch Because they've been with you their whole lives, and that's the biggest influence
They have including the patch of hey, I'm a big brother to my little sister, right? I think that
relationship will probably regrow in time. I think we just need to be patient We can talk to you
can talk to your son and explain the sadness that his sister's going through and see if he can
develop some empathy. But you can't make him beholden to strengthening that relationship,
because he emotionally may not be capable of doing this. He may be asking something that is beyond
his emotional capacity. Assuming that his friends and
his girlfriend are fairly healthy, he's doing okay. He's doing fine. And allow—you know, always
reach out to him. Always make sure that the door is open for him to come back. But it's okay for
him to be a little distant sometimes. That is not uncommon. Because if there's no shame and there's
acceptance, when When things go down and he needs support, he's come back to you guys because
you didn't shame him, you didn't blame him, you didn't make him feel bad for distancing. There's
always that door back. Now, for your daughter, I think it's important to talk to her as well and
help her understand that he's developing a relationship with his friends, he's getting involved
in certain things, he's active and he's busy, and he's developing his own identity. And that's
tough for her to handle because this was her best friend. So I think it's also important to make
sure that you, as the parents, are really making sure that she's feeling supported and loved
and noticed and enjoyed and making sure
that she has opportunities to meet friends to get involved in activities now I know quarantine
it is tough to get involved with stuff unless it's over zoom and it's just not the same and I get
it but do what you can get her into you know finding projects that she can do together art or some
kind of sports or something there's a lot of creative things that people are doing yeah it is
over online is over zoom I get it but it's the best we've got right now so do the best you can with
it um but make sure that you're helping her realize that her brother still loves her and maybe
making some time in the family or it's just family time where everyone shuts off the phone everyone
shuts off the computer and just hang out whether you're playing board games you're making cookies
together taking the dog for a walk it really doesn't matter what you're doing it's more important
that you're doing and that you as a parent are leading the way to have everyone feel you're enjoying
the process, that you guys
are enjoying it. Even if your son is rolling his eyes and would much rather be on, you know, TikTok
or Twitter or something like that. Lead the way. Lead. Be the emotional leaders in the family.
And don't let him derail things by having a sour attitude if that's what's happening. You know,
make sure you guys are having fun. Lead the way. He will notice it. It's a tough situation. There's
not an easy flip to switch to flip here. But make sure you're supporting both kids, not blaming
your son, not blaming your daughter. There's not anything wrong that's happening. This is
just life. I believe that in time, maybe when your son starts going to college, they're gonna
be instantly fast friends again. I've seen it happen so many times with kids in my practice.
Anyways, that's our question for today. Thank you for sending your questions. Please keep
sending your questions in. You can email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or I can
direct messages right here on Facebook. Again, you can
see these videos on IGTV or YouTube, or just go to our website or Facebook page. We love hearing
from you. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling,
and we'll see you guys next Wednesday at noon. Bye -bye.
“My 15 year old son has recently become a lot more focused on his friends and is much less interested in engaging with his 12 year old sister. He used to play with her all the time and now he barely talks with her. He’s never mean, just distant. He laughs and jokes with his friends and girlfriend, but is more somber when he’s just with the family. It breaks my heart to see my daughter’s loss and our mutual realization that those days are the ‘olden days.’ Do you have any advice as to how to maintain the bond/support of a younger sibling who misses her ‘until now, best friend?’”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.