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Teen Rights Vs. Parent’s Rights

Written by Nadine Briggs & Donna Shea

Photography by Carolyn Murphy, Photographed By Kisha Bari

Even if you have yet to experience the whirlwind parenting phase mystically referred to as the “teen years”, everyone can remember being that hormonal, slightly angsty pre-adult at least once in there lifetime. Just as you experienced with your own parents growing up, you and your teenager will, at some point, engage in conflict. It’s a fact of life. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure or way to avoid the teen years, as they are a necessary stage in a child’s development. In fact, disputes between a parent and teen create the necessary emotional separation in order to make moving on after high school, and your child leaving the family nest, less painful for all. Until that time arrives, below are a few tips from both the parent and teen perspectives, to make cohabitation a little easier as your nearly matured adolescent progresses towards their independence.

Tips For The Parents:

  1. While teens are still living at home, they need to follow the house rules. However, it is important to keep in mind that your kids are nearing maturity, and making mistakes is part of learning how to be an adult. If what they are doing isn’t physically dangerous, consider not filling your teen in on the potential pitfall of his or her plan. Let them mess up in small ways now. It might even be good for them down the road when the bigger, inevitable messes of life occur.
  2. Keep in mind: the more a parent tries to control a teen, the more likely they are to rebel. Even if you have never taken a collaborative approach to parenting before, now would be a good time to try and move from the authoritative style to one where your child has some input. When parents collaborate with their teenagers, they are treating them like adults, giving them a say in their lives, and ultimately improving their self-esteem by showing that their input is heard and valued.
  3. If you’re still struggling, two important rules for interacting with teens are: a) Respect their opinion, and b) Never deliberately embarrass them. Unfortunately for us, most parents are embarrassing enough without even having to try!
  4. As a parent, even during the toughest of days with your teenager, remember that you will miss them when they’ve gone off to whatever awaits them after high school. It is also important to keep in mind that your child’s brain will go through another growth spurt in late adolescence, and these years of turmoil will come to an end. Work to create as many good memories during this time as possible, so that when you look back on these years together, it isn’t just memories of a constant power struggle.

Tips For The Teens:

  1. Teenagers (and young adults) who are still living in the family home will have to follow parental rules. Yes, even for those kids 18 years of age or older, and yes, even if the teen or young adult doesn’t agree. The house belongs to the parents, and their rules need to be respected.
  2. For disagreements with a parent’s decision, teens should handle the discussion about the difference of opinion like an adult—thoughtfully and respectfully. It’s important to discuss alternative views in a mature, informed manner.
  3. When a teen screws up—“when,” not “if”—he or she should own it as a personal mistake. Teens shouldn’t blame a buddy, bad luck, or even moon and planet alignment. Everyone’s personal downfalls belong to no one else, but themselves. Take responsibility without excuses, evaluate what could be done differently moving forward, learn from it, and move on.
  4. Teens should keep in mind that parents are going to worry about them—they’re your parents. In fact, most of the time when mom or dad becomes upset with their teenagers, it is driven by that very anxiety. Parents are thinking about their kids going off on their own, and they want them to be safe and happy. So, try to go easy on your folks. Reassure them that they have taught you all the necessary lessons to catapult you into being a successful young adult.

In the end, tumultuous times occur as teenagers grow more mature, and as parents evaluate their children’s readiness to enter into the world without them. Don’t fret! It is a normal part of adolescent development. Parents, relax and take pride in the fact that the task of raising a teen is complete, and that now it’s time to release a newly minted adult into the world. For teens, the “raising” portion is now over, and it’s time to take in all of the knowledge your parents have equipped you with, and carry on as an authentic and confident adult. Hopefully, one day you’ll pass those lessons along, too.

For more tips on parenting teens and tweens, be sure to check out How To Raise Teens With a Conscious In An Online World, How To Boost Self-Esteem In Teenage Girls, and Ace Advice From 10+ Moms of Awesome Teens.

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