Jens Meyer/AP
From goth to jock: our teenager parenting experts explain the connection between your teenager's search for identity and his or her evolving sense of personal style. Participants of the Wave Gothic Festival laugh together in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on Friday, June 10, 2011. The festival is thought to be the world's largest festival for the so-called 'dark culture.'

From goth to jock: your teenager's search for identity

From goth to jock: our teenager parenting experts explain the connection between your teenager's search for identity and his or her evolving sense of personal style.

The theorist Erik Erikson is well known for expanding on Freud’s work regarding human development. Mr. Erikson understood and acknowledged that before an adolescent could make the transition to adulthood, he or she had to embark on a journey, a voyage of self-discovery and a search for an identity.

During the 70s and early 80s, Leonard Nimoy (best known for his portrayal as Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series) hosted a show entitled "In Search of…" Each week Mr. Nimoy would mesmerize the audience as he examined, discussed and detailed another of the world’s mysteries.

As a parent of a teen, there are probably some days when an exploration such as Nimoy’s would be helpful in trying to understand your own teen’s journey to “find himself.”

One day she walks out the door dressed like a dancer, the next a prep, and perhaps the next a hard core rocker. They say “the clothes make the man," and well, to some extent it may seem as if your teen has bought into this concept. At a time when teens are so concerned about how others perceive them, they often use their outward appearance to tell the story of who they are trying to become inside.

Some days you scratch your head in confusion, wondering what happened to the child you once knew. While the road toward identity may seem long and even treacherous (for both you and your teen), the underlying values and life lessons you have instilled him with will ultimately help guide him toward a grown-up version of himself.

Related: Are you a Helicopter Parent? Take our quiz to find out!

As the popular children’s verse goes:

Rich Man, Poor Man,

Beggar Man, Thief,

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.

Such is the journey from adolescence to adulthood. Who will your teen be?

 The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blogs at Talking Teenage.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to From goth to jock: your teenager's search for identity
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today