Parent Struggles

I believe most theories about the stress and strain of adolescence have focused incorrectly on such factors as physical changes, emerging sexuality, new social demands, struggles between being a child and an adult, and other such reasons.

This period is difficult for both youth and parents largely because adolescents become so independent of parents that controlling them is difficult. Attempts at continual control often lead to a reluctance to do what the parent wishes, which in turn leads to a power struggle, resulting in even more reluctance, resentment, and rebellion.

parents assume that adolescent rebellion and hostility are an inevitable function of this stage of development. However, I believe the real reason is that these young people become more able to resist parental power. Many adolescents behave as they do because they have acquired enough strength and resources to satisfy their own desires and have attained enough of their own power so that they do not fear the power of their parents.

Adolescents, therefore, do not rebel against their parents; they rebel against their power.

If parents were to rely less on power and more on noncoercive types of influence from infancy on, there would be little left for children to rebel against when they become adolescents.

The use of power and coercion to affect change in the young (really, with any person) has severe limitations. These limitations with the young come before parents realize the power struggles they have created.

Many of these struggles are the results of using external coercive and manipulative approaches described in the last section of the parenting book.