Before the tips, let's consider where parents are developmentally. For the first 12 or so years, parents are used to being the confidant, chauffeur, bank, best friend, rule-maker, and many other things for their kids. As I mentioned in the previous post, the teenage years result in a significant shift not only for the teen, but also for the parents. Both parent and teen identities are changing. Part of the process of a new identity is confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety. This is a recipe for conflict. Here are some tips that might be helpful:
- Trust your parents. If your parents have been loving and trusting thus far, keep trusting. This doesn't mean you have to agree with them, just listen to their perspective.
- Manage your anxiety. Your life is rapidly changing. Puberty, peer pressure, social demands, etc. That's a lot of pressure, and sometimes stress can affect your relationships. Figure out if your feelings are truly about your parents or something else.
- Ask your parents ahead of time. I know, sometimes things are spontaneous. Parents don't expect you to know Tuesday what your plans are for the weekend. However, be proactive, and give your parents enough time to make a decision.
- Keep promises. If you promise to be home at a certain time or to take the trash out, then do it. When your parents see you following through on a promise, they'll give you more independence.
- Humor your parents by talking to them. If you talk to your parents, even about superficial stuff, parents will ask less questions. If you are secretive, don't be surprised when you are interrogated.
- Introduce your friends. The introduction doesn't have to be hours, even a short 5-10 minute conversation can work. Then when you say you are hanging out with so and so, your parents will feel better because they have actually met the person.
Quick thought: If you don't want to introduce your friends, what does that mean about your friends?
- Want more independence, act responsibly. No one expects you to be perfect, but be responsible. If you make a mistake, own it. If your parents trust you, then maintain that trust by doing the right thing.
- Timing is everything. If you have a request, wait for the right time to ask. If you and your parents aren't on the best of terms in the moment, it's probably not the best time to ask for something.
- Be honest. Parents always tell me what hurts the most is when their teens lie to them. Teens will counter with they have to lie because their parents will be mad. Sometimes parents should be mad, but when lying enters the game, trust leaves.
- Ask for space. Life is hard, being a teen is harder. If you need space, ask for it. Let your parents know that you don't want to talk right now, but give them a specific time when you will talk to them.
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