There is no doubt that being a teenager is a difficult time. It’s a time of self-discovery and figuring out one’s identity apart from a parent’s expectations, and finding one’s place in the world. While strict parents may believe that they’re doing what’s best to protect their children, denying permission, omitting true guidance, and not establishing proper communication can deeply damage the teen-parent relationship in the long run.
Being Strict Can Do More Harm Than Good
It’s not uncommon for parents to start out with the best intentions and set up strict rules for their teenagers in an effort to keep them safe and direct them toward what they consider is the right path. However, pushing a child too hard in one direction can often have the opposite result. The more something is forbidden, the more a rebellious teenager might try to do that exact thing while pretending to obey the parents’ rules.
In fear of soliciting anger or disappointment, a teenager might stop communicating with the parents altogether and keep all conversations superficial. Not wanting to be judged, teens feel more reluctant to ask for the guidance they need. This can have long-term consequences for the parent-teenager relationship.
What Most Teens Want From Parents
Teenagers are in the transitioning phase from being children to becoming adults. If parents don’t allow them the space to grow and become more independent, teens are more likely to struggle with emotional and mental health problems. What most teenagers want is to be trusted. Wanting to explore relationships, attend parties, and assert more independence is a natural thing they don’t want to be villanized for. They want to feel understood and for parents to talk to them without anger and judgment.
Restrictions Are Good Within Reason
Most teenagers are aware that their parents might impose strict rules out of concern and love. However, many teens would prefer to be trusted to make the right decisions while knowing that their parents are always there for support and guidance, and to help them pick up the pieces if a mistake is ever made. This doesn’t mean that rules altogether are bad. Teenagers can respect healthy restrictions that allow them to have a comfort zone and create boundaries with friends. Involving a teen in setting the rules could help gain a deeper mutual understanding.
What Experts Say
Experts such as Dr. Edlynn say that setting up healthy boundaries and supporting a teen’s development can go hand-in-hand. Asking open-ended questions, getting a teenager’s perspective, and collaborating with them on creating important household rules can yield better results than strict and unyielding parenting. Working together with your teen shows a level of trust and lets them know you value their opinion.