What Is a Negative Parent-Teen Relationship?

By Kathryn Hatter
Some conflict will occur, but keep it from becoming too negative.
Some conflict will occur, but keep it from becoming too negative.

The relationship between parents and teens naturally contains come amount of conflict. Conflict is often unavoidable because of contrasts in values, lifestyles and goals. If conflict between loved ones grows to the point of being excessively negative, the parent-teen relationship can suffer.

Changing Relationship

Before the teen years, the parent-child relationship typically involves a deep connection, reciprocal positive feelings and enjoyable interactions. With the onset of adolescence, major changes can shake the bedrock of your relationship with your child, according to psychologist Terri Apter, writing for PsychologyToday.com. Your child may become argumentative, hyper-sensitive, impulsive and dramatic. You might be stunned and dismayed at the changes you see and hear. Your teen’s behavior could stem from feelings of defensiveness for the new person he is becoming.

Symptoms of Negative Relationship

A variety of interaction habits can develop between parents and teenagers, leading to a negative relationship. An unwillingness to recognize and accept differences between each other can create communication and trust issues, warns the U.S. Department of Education in the pamphlet “Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence.” Overreacting to each other with strong emotions also makes communication difficult. Teenagers perceive parental criticism negatively, often because they already have shaky self-esteem and self-concept issues. When conflict happens and one or both parties don’t handle it appropriately, it can become negative. A negative conflict may involve personal attacks and defensiveness meant to deflect responsibility, advises psychologist John Ng, with Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre.

Parenting Tactics

Parents engaging in negative parenting methods might employ a variety of tactics. Overly controlling behavior with strict rules is one example of negative parental behavior, according to author and researcher John Heron with the South Pacific Centre for Human Inquiry website. This authoritarian parenting style generally creates feelings of anger and resentment in a child. A submissive parenting technique that does not set appropriate boundaries doesn’t teach teenagers how to follow rules effectively. Rescuing an adolescent repeatedly from mistakes often leads to the child not developing personal responsibility. Parental neglect involves a lack of connection between parents and teen, which can foster a sense of abandonment and anger in the child.

Positive Changes

When counterproductive parenting methods become the norm, it takes effort to relearn more positive ways to interact with each other, but positive changes are possible. Strive to change the way you relate with your teenager, treating her with respect and understanding, advises the Planned Parenthood website. Spend time with your adolescent, engaging in enjoyable activities or just talking about daily events, thoughts and feelings. Conduct yourself honestly and ethically to display the values you want your teen to emulate. Make an effort to enjoy your teen, too, taking personal interest in the person she’s becoming.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.