The Truth about Raising Teens

Most theories about the stress and strain of raising teens have focused on the wrong things. Factors such as physical changes, emerging sexuality, new social demands, and struggles between being a child and an adult have dominated the parenting landscape for decades. But none of these is the real reason why the teenage years are often so tumultuous.

Realize I’m not saying that raising teens is easy. It’s not. However, we’re looking for solutions in the wrong places. The truth is that this period of adolescence is difficult for both youth and parents largely because the teen becomes so independent of parents that control of the teen is difficult. In fact, the parents’ continued attempts at control often lead to teens resisting to do what the parent wishes. This in turn leads to a power struggle, resulting in even more reluctance, resentment, and rebellion.

Reduce the Stress of Raising Teens

Parents incorrectly assume that adolescent rebellion and hostility are inevitably a function of this stage of development. I believe the real reason for the struggle is that these young people become more able to resist parental power. The typical adolescent behaves 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 don’t fear their parents’ power anymore. An adolescent, therefore, does not rebel against their parents. They rebel against the parents’ power. And this is why raising teens can be so difficult.

Here’s the key point: If parents were to rely less on power and more on noncoercive types of influence from infancy on, there would be little left for the child to rebel against when they become an adolescent.

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