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The secret garden for teens, territory to protect

A long time ago, Claire’s daughter, then 6 years old, had given him the key to her secret notebook, for fear of losing it. From now on, Claire does not know the code of the phone of her teenager aged 15, nor that of her mailbox. She stays at the door of her secret garden.

Long before Claire’s daughter, adolescence was always “The time of secrets”, in the words of Marcel Pagnol, who recounts, in his novel of the same name, the reveries of this age when, in love with a young girl he did not even dare to look at, he imagined himself becoming his hero, saving her from the flames to the cheers of the crowd …

Dreaming your life to prepare for adulthood

At this sensitive age, in fact, all of a sudden, we become quieter and we dream our life, in this play space where everything is possible, where we can try this or that attitude, as if we put on successive costumes. “One can be another there, writes psychologist Dana Castro. It’s a monologue that allows us some bad feelings and inspires us to become ourselves. The idea is to try, mentally at least, various roles and scenarios, in order to test the consequences. “

These reveries, these sometimes crazy scenarios scaffolded under the young skulls, say a lot about their aspirations. This is precisely why they are locked in double towers, walled up under several layers of silence. “The secret garden fuels dreams and allows you to prepare for things that you think are reserved for adults”, observes Professor Philippe Jeammet, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Even if it means sometimes leaving parents hungry. “I no longer have the right to go through the door of my son’s room without knocking, laments Anaïs. And I don’t have access to grand-thing of his private thoughts. “

Faced with teenagers’ silence, some parents are cunning

So, faced with this silence, everyone retaliates in their own way. Some parents try to trick. Caroline says: “I feel that my daughter is starting to wonder about sexuality but she doesn’t tell me about it. If I mention this theme, it closes like an oyster. So, one day, I bought a celebrity magazine in which the love life of celebrities is displayed. I was reading with little comments. Sometimes she would bite the hook. For example, we could talk about infidelity. I found her to have some interesting thoughts and to see things quite well. So I was able to create a kind of bond. I didn’t want to know more; I was reassured. I would find it a little inappropriate to ask for more. I don’t need to know everything about his life. Everyone has to stay in their place, I think. “

→ READ. Let’s cultivate the conversation

Others live it more painfully, like Damien. “My son doesn’t tell me anything more; I find it hard to understand why but sometimes I feel like he almost avoids me, rather than talking to me. Too bad. I could advise it, etc. But hey, I tell myself that this is a phase and that it will come back later. “

Behind the secret, build trust

Nothing could be more normal, however, believe the shrinks, that the adolescent sets up a psychic distance vis-à-vis his parents. It is up to them, they insist, to accept not to know everything about the life of their growing child. “A teenager hates being transparent to his parents”, resumes Dana Castro. There is therefore no point in titillating it – “So, who is your sweetheart?” “- or wanting to monitor all his associates.

→ READ. The secret garden, this mysterious forest

“Either way, it’s completely pointless, resumes Philippe Jeammet. You can never know everything about the thoughts of your children. “ According to this specialist in adolescence, this is not the issue. What matters more is knowing that we can trust him, that there is no wolf hidden in the secret garden, in short, and that it is not home to suffering.

“But trust is built patiently, he recalls. Teenagerlescence acts as a revealer of what has already been played outthen childhood. It is a question of atmosphere, of family climate.


To read

► Little silences, little lies. The secret garden of childhood, by Dana Castro, Albin Michel

Throughout this book, which is more intended for parents of young children, the clinical psychologist and psychotherapist explores this intimate space that is the secret garden. Through this erudite and tender visit in the reverie of the youngest, we discover above all a process that helps to grow and deserves to be respected.

► For our teenagers, let’s be adults, by Philippe Jeammet, O. Jacob, 2010

The former head of the adolescent psychiatry department at the Institut Montsouris in Paris, draws up avenues for parents, far from any simplicity, in order to be present but not too much with their teenagers. This age is indeed, he explains, that of paradoxes and tensions, between a need for autonomy and very high expectations vis-à-vis parents.


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