Balancing Support and Independence in Teenagers’ Lives

I read an article about how a lot of teens today actually have less independence than previous generations had. Because now parents can, like, track on their phones. You know, you’ve got college kids where their parents are contacting the professors, their parents are finding roommates for them, their parents. There’s actually a Facebook group for parents at different colleges where they can. The parents can talk and schedule, like, hangout sessions for their kids, almost like, you know, playdates. So there’s more and more, like parent intervention now and parent involvement. parent intervention now and parent involvement. that freedom and independence and, you know, exploration. And I think, let’s say the numbers for sexual interactions are up, it could be because that’s, like, one place where parents can’t intervene or where they can find some independence because they have some privacy there. 

 I have more and more parents doing their kids’ homework, and I’m like, “Stop. You’re not helping them. You’re hurting them.” Parents are so concerned, like, “What’s it going to look like if my kids aren’t turning their homework in or are failing? ”It’s not a reflection about you as the parent that is on the child. And you’re not allowing your child to have natural consequences for their actions. You’re not allowing them to fall. I do see that parents want to pick them up before your kids fall. And it’s mind-blowing. Maybe it’s the place where they can have their independence, because they can’t. 

My eleven-year-old, almost twelve-year-old daughter, she’ll say, “I just want my freedom.” Like, at eleven years old, “What would that look like to you? ” And she’s like, well, “I can just go on the computer when I want to. You’ll get me an iPhone. Now in my house. You’re not going to read my text messages? ” And I’m like, “Yeah, honey, you’ve got a long time, if that’s your freedom. You’re not going to have freedom for a long time.” But here’s where I do give them the freedom to make the choices that they want to make. Like, you’re either going to study for that test or you’re not. But getting into an argument over studying for a test is not how I want to spend my evening. But you’re giving them freedom in all of the important areas for them to develop some autonomy or freedom to choose, like what activities or extracurriculars they participate in. They probably have freedom in what friends they choose and who they don’t want to spend time with. So they’re getting autonomy in the really important areas of making decisions, not necessarily freedom and things where personal safety is involved. 

Listen to the full episode here:

“Navigating Adolescence: Understanding Emotional Intelligence in Teens” | with Dr. Melanie McNally

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