The parallel developmental task for parents

If we return to the focus on the developmental task and the promotion of health and growth in the adolescent and young person, then we may consider how this connects with their (unconscious) Oedipal struggle. We recognise that the developmental task for the child and adolescent has its parallel in the developmental task for parents. A critical task for parents as their children move into adolescence is to be able to successfully become a disappointment for them. Being a disappointment for adolescents and young people is the antithesis of maintaining a position of being in control and irreplaceable, as well as being the font of all wisdom for the present and into the future. It is not unusual to find that these issues are contributing factors to the anxiety and rigidities that are so typical of embedded problems in adolescents and young people. The anxieties and rigidities may at least in part be understood as the fear of the young person that they can never separate from one or both parents, and find a sense of self literally to stand up in. In many cases their continuing dependence and apparent gratitude to their parents is underpinned by an underlying sense of anger towards them and a wish to blame them for the hopelessness of their situation.

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