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

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(Read caption) 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.'

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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.

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