Teenage Independence: How Can Parents Navigate It?

Date: 06/30/2023

Title: Teenage Independence: How Can Parents Navigate It?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
Does your teenager want more freedom and independence that you're willing to give? Well, let's
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 live happier lives. I lead
two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 C three organization, child and
Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
on the Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My son is 15,
and it seems like we're bumping heads a lot lately. He just wants a little more freedom than I'm
comfortable with. He wants to go places with friends that drive, go farther away from home,
and stay out later and more often, et cetera. When I tell him no or even try to compromise with
him, he comes back with me with, why don't you trust me? I want him to develop independence and
responsibility, so when he puts me in that position, it makes

00:01:08 Speaker 1
me feel guilty and conflicted. Any tips on how I can handle this? Yes. Thank you for your question.
Like many of your questions, a lot of parents, I think, can really relate to this, especially
parents of teenagers. It's normal and this developmentally and societally normal for teenagers
to push away and grasp for more freedom, more independence, that is a totally normal thing.
It's also normal for us parents to be scared about that and want to hold on. And this push pull,
I think is a normal if I can just say normal again. It's a common phenomenon that hopefully helps
both. You find this imperfect middle, which I talk about a lot, the imperfect middle, which
neither one loves, but we kind of like kind of like how it's political season right now. We just
had a big election. It doesn't go far left or far right. Usually we're somewhere struggling
in the middle, and that's maybe a healthier place for us to be. I don't know. But for families,
I think it is. Because if he's 15 and wanted to

00:02:11 Speaker 1
go farther instead of just saying no because you don't like it, I always say try to avoid no if
you can. No is simple. It's easy, but it shuts things down. It shuts down the conversation. What
I would say instead is, let's say he wants to get in his friend's car and drive wherever it's farther
than you like and say, hey, I know you want to do this. I understand. But what I'm concerned about
is these are my concerns. If we can satisfy these three concerns, I can be okay with this and let
the two of you collaborate on how to do that. No, you just have to do it my way or no way at all. Say,
okay, well, then it's no way. If it's win or lose, then you're choosing loss. But if you want to
collaborate, I'm here to collaborate as much as you like, and this is hard to do as parents, we
have to be calm. We have to be steady. We have to be the adult in the room. Your 15 year old is not
qualified for this role. So one of us has to set the examples of the standard of how to be a mature
adult and not

00:03:12 Speaker 1
take the tax so seriously. And again, this is a big ask. It is hard to do this. He is genetically
engineered to know how to push every one of your buttons. But it's important for us as parents
to take that breath, be calm, recognize that he cannot or she and wherever that may be, they're
not responsible for our emotional well being. They can't be. They're not qualified to have
that role. We have to be able to make sure that we are staying calm even when being triggered by
their incessant badgering of I want to go out and all my friends go out. So collaborate with him.
If he wants to go to Calabasas Commons, let's say, and it's a little far for you, how do you navigate
that? I have a client, I talked recently, and they negotiated a deal that he could go on public
transit to go where he wants to go through a series of scheduled check ins, having his phone turned
on all the time, being able to respond to texts and phone calls, being able to track on his phone.
He and his parents worked out

00:04:14 Speaker 1
a deal that the parents were okay with. Again, it's not his perfect solution either, but everyone's
getting kind of what they want. Everyone wants him to be more independent and responsible way,
and they're allowing him to demonstrate responsibility. I think that's what's really important.
So it's really important. Again, you negotiate and collaborate with your teenager. How to
make something work. Now, if you're saying, hey, I want to go with my friends overnight to Tijuana
without any parents and we're 14, obviously the answer is probably going to be no. But instead
of just saying no, say, well, here are my concerns, and you can list all your concerns. If we can
satisfy all these concerns and we can figure that out now, there's no way he's going to satisfy
those concerns because it's probably not realistic. But at least you're stepping up to the
table. You're creating an environment where he's learning how to negotiate and collaborate
with you instead of fight. And that's what we want

00:05:10 Speaker 1
to do here. And again, if you're feeling guilty because he's going to pull you don't trust me
card, I understand that, but he's doing it. He's not conscious of what he's doing. He's not conscious
of how that's hurting you. All he's focused on is what I want, because he's in tunnel vision,
because he's a teenager, and this is normal. It's not because he's bad. It's because he's 15,
and that's what the girls do. So it's important that you are taking care of yourself so you're
on stable emotional ground, so you can be that for him when he can't be. Anyways, that's our question
for today. We love your questions. Keep them coming. If you have your question you like me to
answer here on Tips on Teams, email us at tips on teams@teentherapycenter.com. You also can
direct message us here on Facebook or Instagram. We love your questions. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. And I'll see you guys next Wednesday
at noon with your question. Thank you.

“Can I Take The Car?

Is your kid experiencing a rush of teenage independence? And are you not quite okay with it? It’s normal for teens to push away from parents and grasp for more freedom and independence. But it’s also normal for us parents to be scared by that and want to hold on. The push/pull between parents and teens wanting their freedom is a phenomenon which hopefully helps both parties find the perfect middle. And it may even be a healthier place to be.

Keep The Connection. Collaborate!

The most important thing to remember for parents of kids seeking teenage independence is to try to make it a collaboration. Parents should try to avoid saying “no” if they can in favor of taking the opportunity for dialogue. “No” is easy, but it’s a conversation ender. Instead, tell your kid your concerns let them know if they can satisfy your concerns then maybe you can work it out. Set up a situation where you negotiate and collaborate instead of fight, and you can probably avoid a lot of friction.

It’s a big topic, and take it out of the house in this Tips on Teens:

“My son is 15 and it seems like we’re bumping heads a lot lately. He just wants a little more freedom than I’m comfortable with. He wants to go places with friends that drive, go farther away from home, and stay out later and more often, etc. When I tell him no or even try to compromise with him he comes back with ‘why don’t you trust me?’ I want him to develop independence and responsibility, so when he puts me in that position it makes me feel guilty and conflicted. Any tips on how I should handle?”

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.