This blog shares information on healthy parenting approaches for teens. If you are reading this, you may be struggling with parenting strategies or your relationship with your teen. This is a common shift in dynamics in families, as teenage years can be difficult to navigate; however, there are some instances where parenting techniques can do more harm than good.
It’s important to you to have a trusting, respectful relationship with your teenager. You want to ensure their safety and well-being at all times. It could be when you were a teenager, you experienced or witnessed situations that you don’t want your teen to go through. Most commonly, parents lead from a place of their own fears and worries for their teen’s well-being and future success. Finding the balance between protecting them, while allowing them to be independent, can be difficult to navigate.
The parenting approach you use with your teen now will ultimately affect who they are as adults, and research emphasizes the importance of supportive relationships between parents and their teens. While it can be easy to believe that your approach is best, due to the fact that you have been raised a certain way, that may not apply to your teen now.
It’s true that finding the balance between being a beacon of support while guiding them with clear and firm boundaries can be tricky. With effort from both the parent and the teen, changes in your relationship dynamic are possible.
This blog shares information about the different types of parenting styles, why authoritative parenting is the most effective approach, and how you can incorporate this with your teen. Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA offers you a space to review your parenting non-judgmentally. Everyone has room to grow to become the best versions of themselves!
It could be that you were raised in a certain manner and feel, “Well, it worked for me, it will work for them”. However, there may be issues with assuming your teen’s emotional response will be the same as yours.
Healthy Parenting Approaches for Teens: The different types of parenting styles
There are 4 classified parenting styles:
- Permissive/Easygoing parenting. Within this style, parents are likely to take on more of a friend role. They tend to avoid conflict and let the child make decisions for themselves. There can be a lack of boundaries between the parent and child, and rules or expectations are not clear.
- Neglectful/Uninvolved parenting. Uninvolved parents are likely to have little to no involvement or engagement with the child. There is a lack of rules or expectations. The parent likely offers little emotional or physical support and guidance for the child.
- Authoritarian/Rigid parenting. This approach is described as having strict rules or expectations without regard to the child’s feelings. The parent is stern with discipline and attempts to be in total control of any scenario. There is a lack of open communication and negotiation between the parent and child.
- Authoritative parenting/Reasonable parenting. Authoritative parents are described as being nurturing and supportive, yet having clear boundaries and expectations. There is open and honest communication about rules, and the child’s feelings and desires are taken into account.
In a two-parent household or within a blended family, multiple parenting styles may be used. This can potentially create confusion for teens as to navigating rules, boundaries, or expectations.
Family counseling in Simi Valley, CA provides all family members with a space to feel heard and supported. Make sure to read our blog on 5 Tips to Successfully Co-Parent with Your Ex-Partner.
Healthy Parenting Approaches for Teens: Why an authoritative style is the best approach
The authoritative style is the most effective parenting style as it involves a mix of supporting your child, but also setting firm and clear boundaries with them. Within this approach, there is active collaboration between the parent and child. This includes understanding everyone’s feelings and beliefs of how to navigate conflict. There is also a good sense of emotional support for when your teen may disagree with rules or expectations.
While there are set rules and expectations, the parents also offer flexibility and understanding. Active collaboration between the parent and child means that there is an open conversation, and other perspectives are considered. It may not be easy to come to a mutual agreement on some things, but it is better to try than to overrule them. Rules and expectations shift naturally as your child grows, so it’s important to listen to what will work best for them.
Your teenager is not the same young child they once were. You may be used to making decisions for them, telling them no “because I said so”, or having the majority of control over their choices. At one point, you were in control of their life. But now, a step back needs to be taken, and collaboration needs to occur to help your teen learn independence and autonomy.
Understanding that your teen’s input is just as important as yours when setting rules, expectations, or boundaries is essential to helping them feel heard and seen.
Expecting blind obedience from teens is an ineffective approach to parenting for numerous reasons. While you are the parent, you are also not the only person in the dynamic with feelings, thoughts, and ideas to exchange. Working with your teen gives them a sense of trust, security, support, and validation.
Teen therapy in Simi Valley, CA provides teens with a nonjudgmental space to discuss difficult feelings or situations. For parents, make sure to read our blog on 5 Crucial Steps Parents Can Take to Prevent Teen Suicide. We also wrote a blog on 3 Benefits of Teen Therapy!
Healthy Parenting Approaches for Teens: Ways to implement healthy approaches
You can incorporate the authoritative parenting approach in a few different ways. It is never too late to begin collaborating with your teen on the best way to navigate conflict or expectations. There are ways to remain in general control as a parent, while giving your teen some appropriate control as well.
Autonomy is defined as feeling, behaving, and thinking independently or having freedom to make choices. This is a crucial skill for teens to develop, as it allows them to manage their own lives and make positive, healthy choices. They may express a desire for autonomy by questioning “why can’t I go there/why can’t I do that”. Your natural response may be, “because I know what’s best/I feel like it may be unsafe”.
You may have valid reasons for wanting to make decisions for your teen. There may be beliefs that the people they hang around or locations they want to go to are unsafe. It’s reasonable and appropriate to express your caution or concern around this and establish limits. Ultimately, your teen will eventually need to navigate these scenarios and use their own judgment. They may also encounter natural consequences as a result of mistakes or poor choices.
One example is financial autonomy. For instance, your teen gets their first job and will receive paychecks on a regular basis. This is an opportunity for your teen to act independently and learn to responsibly manage their money. You as a parent may want to ensure they are being responsible with their earnings; however, taking away all of their control will not help them learn valuable lessons, such as the importance of saving, and may enable them to not be responsible.
Giving your teen autonomy sets them up for success in adulthood, as they can experience personal responsibility without immediate help from their parents.
Clear Expectations and Rules
Holding your teen accountable for certain expectations and rules, such as curfew, is one way to practice this approach. This also pertains to when they can date, get a job, have driving privileges, and more. A key part of this is being flexible to adjust these expectations and rules as your teen grows and their needs change.
In setting these expectations and rules, hold open conversations with your teen. It’s easy to assume what they are thinking, such as with curfews and not wanting to have a curfew at all. In reality, they may agree with wanting a certain time to return to their space. Making them clear includes establishing specifics for:
- Time (such as curfew, when to return home for family time).
- Location (how far they can travel by themselves or with friends, such as not exceeding a 50 mile radius).
- Privileges (using the family car, weekly or monthly allowances).
- Electronic usage (such as video games or devices aside from their personal cell phone).
For example, your teen may be allowed to use the car to get food or hangout with friends. They may only be allowed to drive within a set, reasonable range, and need to have the car back by a certain time. If these expectations are broken, it is reasonable for you to temporarily retract the car usage, but reinstate the usage when your teen understands why and accepts the rules.
Facing natural consequences for not upholding the clear expectations and rules set can teach your teen to make better choices and decisions moving forward.
Giving Them Choices
Providing your teen with opportunities to make choices is another way to incorporate authoritative parenting. Teens don’t want to feel like they are still young children, having parents make decisions for them. They are eager to begin making some decisions on their own!
Choices can pertain to basically any decision that would need to be made in the household. Whether it’s what they would want to have for dinner this week, what days of the week they want to have access to the car, or what they want to do when you have family time together.
With choices comes compromise. It could be that your teen states wanting to go to a certain restaurant for dinner. This may not be feasible, and you already know that won’t work out. By communicating with them to say, “I understand you are interested in eating there. I’m wondering if we can try to make something similar at home together, or schedule a later time for us to go?”. This avoids simply saying, “No, not this week”, and making it a collaborative decision.
Even if you are already aware that your teen’s choice may not work out, it at least helps foster active communication and involvement for them. They may feel more recognized for their needs, desires, or feelings within these conversations. It will be apparent to them that their opinion matters, and will be taken into consideration.
Parenting is not an easy role. It’s important to guide yourself with love and forgiveness as you navigate how to best parent your teen.
In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either. Make sure to check out our blog on 4 Reasons to Start Family Counseling!
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