Teenage Independence: what’s the right amount?

Is your 13 -year -old daughter ready for the independence that she's craving? Well, we're gonna
talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and
family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier lives.
I lead two organizations, Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My daughter
is 13 and she's really starting to push away. She resists spending time with the family and just
wants to go to her friends' houses all the time. We live about a mile from a yogurt shop and she
asked to walk over there and meet her friends. I'm not even comfortable letting her walk around
alone. I know this is gonna become more of a problem the older she gets. What do I do? Well, thank
you for your question. There's a lot to unpack here.

The first thing is what she's going through is fairly normal. Teenagers, adolescents normally
push away from their parents the more they get into their adolescence. It's normal. If they
didn't do this, they'd never leave the house. It's okay. It's a normal part of development,
but there needs to be a balance, right? It's okay for her to crave being with her friends, wanna
be with her friends. She should have some positive social interactions in her life routinely
and that's wonderful, but she should also have some connection with family as well. Even though
she's pushing away from it, there needs to be some balance and collaborating with her and how
to make this more appealing to her, more enjoyable for her. And you may get the rolling of the
eyes. You may get the, nothing, I just don't wanna be with you. I understand that. Many of us adults,
we're like that as teenagers too and we grew out of it, so be patient. It's a marathon, but make
sure that you're offering her both. Secondly, how

much independence should she plan to have? How dangerous is it for her to walk to the yogurt shop?
How much time should she spend at friends' houses? And again, every family's gonna be a little
different with this, but it's important to negotiate with her how much time she's spending
at friends' houses versus having friends at your house. And she may say, friends here is boring.
Find a way, a compromise with her to make that doable so you can get to know her friends, get to
know the parents of her friends as well. I think it's really important. But also this whole thing
of independence. Should she be able to walk to the yogurt shop that's a mile away? Physically,
a mile walk is not that big of a deal, but there's gonna be questions. Is she safe to do this? How
do you do this safely so you don't go crazy? Every parent has the nightmare that their child,
they let their child loose to give some independence and they get snatched up and they're gone
forever. Every parent has that nightmare.

I do too. I get it. But we have to understand that that nightmare is statistically incredibly
small. It is much more likely that she walks to the yogurt shop and is uneventful. Now again,
every neighborhood's different and I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but statistically,
she's much more likely to die in a car crash that you're driving. I'm not saying you're gonna
die in a car crash, I'm just saying statistically, that's a much more likely thing to happen
and you guys get in the car all the time and you take that risk all the time. So maybe collaborating
with your daughter on how to have safety. Does she need to get into self -defense classes? Does
she have her phone on? Does she have a tracker on her phone? Does she need to send a text when she
gets to the yogurt shop? If she goes to the sandwich shop that's two stores down, does she need
to let you know that? Figure out how do we allow your daughter to have some reasonable independence
so she can start developing that awareness of

how to do this because if not now, when? Is it when she's 16? Is it when she's 25? When is the time
when she can start experimenting with a healthy amount of independence? And this is really
scary and I'm gonna say something people may not agree with but in our society, we tend to worry
more about our girls than boys in these situations. I'm not saying that boys can't get abducted
or hurt because they can. Boys can get in danger too but I talk to parents all the time and they'll
say they worry more about their daughters in these situations than their sons and if he was a
boy, would you have the same concerns? You might or you might not, I don't know. But your fears,
I'm not saying we should throw them away. They should inform you but should they be in the driver's
seat? And maybe they shouldn't be in the driver's seat but they should be there to inform you
and to be aware so you're not too careless. My hunch is you're not gonna be careless because you're
already worried about this stuff

already. So collaborate with your daughter, find a compromise, something that may not be perfect
for anyone which is usually the best compromise there is and allow it to grow and evolve as she
matures and gets older and demonstrates responsibility. That's our question for today, thank
you. We love your questions, keep them coming. If you'd like me to answer your question, email
us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or you can direct message us right here on Facebook.
Thank you again, my name is Kent Toussaint. This is Tips on Teens and I represent Teen Therapy
Center and the nonprofit Child Indian Counseling. See you next week, bye -bye.


Teenagers, or adolescents, tend to distance themselves from their parents as they enter adolescence. The drive for teenage independence is a normal part of their development. However, it’s important to find a balance. It’s okay for your daughter to spend time with her friends and crave social interactions. It’s healthy for her to have positive social experiences in her life. At the same time, it’s important for her to maintain a connection with her family, despite her desire to push away. Finding ways to make this connection more appealing and enjoyable for her is crucial. Remember, many adults went through a similar phase as teenagers and eventually grew out of it, so be patient.


How can we determine when is the right time for a young person to start experimenting with a healthy level of independence? Is it at 16 years old? Is it at 25 years old? Finding the appropriate time requires collaboration with your child and reaching a compromise that may not be perfect for anyone, but is usually the best solution. This arrangement should be allowed to grow and evolve as she matures and demonstrates responsibility. 

Teenage independence is a big topic, and we get to unpacking it in this Tips on Teens Video:

“My daughter is 13 and she’s really starting to push away. She resists spending time with the family, and just wants to go to her friends’ houses all the time. We live about a mile from a yogurt shop and she asked to walk over there and meet her friends. I’m not even comfortable letting her walk around alone. I know this is going to become more of a problem the older she gets. What do I do?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.