Teens go through many changes at home, at school and socially. Some are ready to take on new challenges and responsibilities while others need more time. They may rely increasingly less on you and more on themselves. They may spend more time with their friends and less time at home. Little by little, you’ve given your teen as much freedom as you think they can handle because you want them to create their own identity and become responsible adults.
Teens diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency (PI) and their families have unique challenges and added responsibilities. Your family can help your teen manage PI while balance time as a family.
Your Teen’s Education
Living with a primary immunodeficiency (PI) can affect your teen’s education. You can be their best advocate with some research and planning. Click here to learn more about what you need to do.
Your Teen’s Independence
Achieving independence is an essential part of your teen’s transition to adulthood. To make this transition successful, you will need to give your teen the freedom to try new things so they can develop a strong identity. A strong sense of self will lead to more confidence and greater self-esteem. This will allow them to be more resilient and cope with the challenges of living with PI.
Building positive family relationships is no easy task. All members have unique personalities that interact in different ways. As children grow, they are learning from their parents. They are being shaped by the whole family experience. These experiences will influence their values and attitudes as an adult. When families have a child with PI, sometimes challenges are magnified, and it can take a physical and emotional toll on every family member.
In addition, family stability can be affected by many factors, such as finances, divorce, substance abuse, or chronic illness. Overall family stability is measured by its ability to adapt to change and stress. Families that maintain stability during these times become more resilient and stronger.
You can manage your teen’s PI and the effects it has on your family stability. Here are some proven family coping skills:
You can also turn to IDF for guidance. Visit IDF Friends, a discussion forum designed for those living with PI, including parents, where you can connect with others parenting a teen with PI. You can also request to talk one-on-one with a volunteer through IDF Peer Support.
Sibling relationships strongly influence family dynamics, which is the way family members interact with one another and in relation to the group. Siblings are one of the most important connections people have throughout their life. At an early age, however, brothers and sisters compete for their parents’ attention. This competition can put a strain on the family. When one member of a family has a chronic illness, it can further affect family dynamics.
It is hard to predict how a brother or sister will deal with their sibling’s PI. Some siblings may feel guilty because they are healthy and others may feel anxious about becoming sick themselves. Siblings might feel angry if they are asked to do more around the house or don’t get the attention they desire. You should acknowledge the siblings’ feelings and develop ways to help them cope:
Your Teen’s Friends
As a parent, you want to know who your kids are hanging out with. Your teen’s friends have tremendous influence on them. This is what peer pressure is all about. It makes sense that you want your teen to hang out with people who will have a positive influence on their lifestyle choices. Their friendships have deeper meaning to them and last longer than as a preadolescent. Their friends are very important to them. Your teen’s friends are not replacing you. Their friends are becoming more important, and your teen still needs you to be supportive as they mature into young adults.
Your Teen Getting a Job
Many teens want to have a job. They like getting paid and the feeling of independence. There are many good reasons why your teen should work.
Your teen working does have its negatives.
How do you know if your teen is ready to take on the added responsibility of a job? Take this quiz to see if they are ready: http://parentingteens.about.com/library/sp/quiz/teenjob/blteen_job_quiz.htm.
The most important consideration for your working teen is the number of hours they should work each week. The U.S. Department of Labor has regulations regarding child labor: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/workhours.htm.
For more information about teens living with PI, , click here to download the adolescent chapter from the IDF Patient & Family Handbook.