Why Some Teens Have Trouble With Their Parents

By Laura Agadoni
Some conflict is bound to occur between parents and teens.
Some conflict is bound to occur between parents and teens.

It can take a toll on parents as teens explore their growing independence. Typical ways for teenagers to exert independence are through rebellion, restlessness, turmoil and defiance, according to the FamilyEducation website. The teen years are emotional times for many kids, and this often leads to a troubled parent-child relationship.

Sees the Parent Differently

Young children typically don’t see their parents' flaws, but teens view their parents more realistically, says Dr. David Elkind, author of “All Grown Up and No Place to Go,” in an article at WebMD. Young teens might be embarrassed to be seen with their parents in public because they believe their parents don’t dress or act like some ideal they might have seen through the media or at a friend’s home. Differentiating themselves from you helps teens become more independent.

A Developing Brain

The prefrontal cortex of the brain is developing during the teen years. Teens are learning to be analytical adults with their own ideas. Teens, wanting to exercise this new way of thinking, practice on parents -- often in the form of arguments, Elkind says. Teens also naturally question a parent’s authority, according to Marie Lee-Rude, regional extension educator for the University of Minnesota Extension in the article, “Conflict Between Parents and Teens – It’s Normal!” Questioning your authority is another reason your teen might argue with you.

A Parent's Negativity

Some parents fear the teenage years so much they put out a negative vibe to their child. If you think you will have trouble with your teen, you might be setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy, says Richard Lerner, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, in the WebMD article. If you expect trouble and risky behavior, you’re likely to get it, according to results from a Wake Forest University study reported by WebMD.

Difficulty Making the Adjustment

As teens develop their own identity, some parents have difficulty adjusting. Parents who once controlled all aspects of their child’s life cannot always accept the choices their teen makes. For instance, if you put your son in baseball leagues since he was a little boy with hopes he'd play baseball for his high school team and he chooses not to, a conflict will likely occur. Teens resent parents who force them to do activities they don’t enjoy, and parents often clash with teens they believe are making the wrong decisions.

About the Author

Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.