There was this kid I really envied as a teenager. I thought his parents were the best and mine were dictators in comparison.
For starters, he was allowed to stay out all hours while I had a strict curfew. He was also allowed to attend parties where there was little to no adult supervision. I didn't even bother to ask my parents since I knew their answer.
But best of all, according to my teenage self, his parents let him get away with almost anything-including drinking alcohol. They not only allowed him to drink but also provided the alcohol when they were at home. They believed that if teens were given the freedom to do whatever they wanted, they would eventually settle down and straighten out.
I tried sharing this point of view with my parents but they were adamant that I still needed rules and limits. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I understood their wisdom.
What’s Wrong With Letting Teens Be Teens?
In trying to avoid conflict at home, many parents make one of the most common mistakes of modern-day parenting — not setting limits. They try to become cool parents by befriending their teens and allowing them to get away with irresponsible behavior under the guise of “getting it out of their system.”
Unfortunately, this tends to backfires because:
Teen brains are wired for risk. The argument that giving teens freedom to act out or experiment to their hearts’ content might sound logical, but it’s actually flawed. You see, teens’ brains are still developing and this affects their ability to think rationally and come up with sound judgment. This, coupled with their need to belong which makes them susceptible to negative peer pressure, explains why they tend to make lots of bad decisions. Then clearly, giving them unfettered freedom is the wrong move.
Teens thrive where there are clear boundaries and consequences. For this reason, parents should not only set appropriate boundaries and consequences but also make sure they communicate them to their teens. Even though teenagers are loathe to admit it, boundaries give them a sense of comfort and security and help them learn responsibility and independence. So asking them to live without limits is actually detrimental to their well-being.
Stay Firm With Your Teens
No matter how you slice it, justifying inappropriate behavior under the pretext of letting kids get it out of their system is just an excuse for lazy parenting.
Parents who really care don’t shy away from disciplining their kids when necessary or making other tough decisions to ensure they grow up to be responsible, independent and well-adjusted adults who can make a positive contribution to society.
Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere.
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