A common struggle for teens is the frustration and stress from having overbearing parents.
Just today I talked with a 17-year-old client that’s considered the most responsible, sensible, and mature of his friend group, yet has the most restrictive parents of all his friends.
He has a more rigid curfew, more rules around dating, shows he can watch, apps he can use, and what areas of town he’s allowed to go. He spends huge amounts of time either fighting or arguing with his parents or feeling resentful, underestimated, or outraged.
What bothers him most is the sense of unfairness given how responsible he is, and that there’s no way to make it right. There’s nobody to complain to that will let him argue his case and make an objective ruling.
His parents can do whatever they want, they don’t have to listen to him, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
On top of the pressure he feels around school and his future, trying to handle his social anxiety, plus all the other problems in his life, he's constantly worrying about how to avoid being a drag on the group plans because he has to leave early or has other restrictions his friends end up having to deal with.
He stresses constantly about whether his parents will say no to ‘last-minute plans,’ which are by far the most common type of plan in the teen world. Last-minute plans are seen as disorganized and suspicious to his parents, so they often refuse to let him participate.
So for this guy, the fact that his parents knowingly create more stress for him has become the worst of all his problems. In his world, parents are supposed to be supportive and ‘in his corner.’ And in reality, they’ve become villains and antagonists.
From what I've noticed, parents tend to fall on a giant continuum of involvement and restriction. Some parents have no restrictions, either because they consciously decided that, or because their focus is on other things. Maybe they're struggling themselves. So they’re ‘hands off’ by default.
On the other end of the continuum, there are parents that are very much involved in the mechanics and the workings of their kids’ lives on an hourly or daily basis.
And there’s everything in between.
The tricky part is that parenting is one giant gray area. There are no rules or formulas. There’s no right way.
And in the grand scheme of things, parents are writing the script as they go along and can only do what makes sense to them.
So why did this 17 year old land in a house with strict parents and his best friend landed in a more “relaxed and basically better in every way” (his words) house?
I have no idea.
But I do know that with each ‘parenting package,’ there are upsides and downsides. That's one of the things I talk about in today's video.
I also know that just like you, every parent wakes up in the morning wanting to be a good person and do the right thing.
Sometimes a little understanding of this dilemma (which ultimately teens and parents are in together) helps neutralize some of the outrage and insult that teens feel in such huge amounts.
And a little insight may offer a way to approach conversations that get more results, more give and take, and more respect, consideration, and partnership.
That’s what today’s video is about.
Being a teen isn't easy. In many ways, it's MUCH harder than being a parent of a teen.
I hope this video helps, even if it's just a little.
Click below to watch.