Most teenagers have a quest for ever-expanding independence as they move toward adulthood. At the same time, parents have a quest to keep a teenager healthy and safe from harm. Teenagers often value specific freedoms that they strive to achieve from parents. In the dance of independence, teens and parents may bargain with each other to determine which freedoms the teen will enjoy and value.
A significant part of adolescence involves carving out a new identity that is individual from parents and family. This unique identity often takes time to explore for an adolescent and he may try various personalities or personas while he’s finding one that fits him, says the University of Texas at Austin. Although watching a teenager progress through this process may be challenging for parents, a teen needs the freedom and space to find out who he wants to be. Allow your teenager to experiment with different dress styles, hair styles and music as long as your teen doesn’t engage in risky behavior that could cause harm.
Teenagers often balk at the boundary of a curfew when parents initiate one. A common bargaining point between parents and a teenager involves curfews, with the teen usually striving to stay out later and parents striving to construct solid boundaries that will keep a teenager safe. Although teenagers may prefer the freedom to come and go without restrictions, a curfew is important to provide expectations of conduct and to communicate parents’ involvement and care about the teenager’s activities, says Planned Parenthood. You might consent to negotiation about curfew as long as your teenager complies with your need for information -- who he’s with and where he is -- and as long as your teen behaves responsibly.
Once a teenager earns her driver’s license, driving privileges and the use of a car will likely be a valued freedom, states psychologist Carl Pickhardt, with the Psychology Today website. With a pattern of responsible behavior, keeping curfews, keeping grades up and following rules about substance use, it’s reasonable to allow a teenager to drive and use the family car, when applicable. If a teenager engages in conduct that violates rules or causes parents to mistrust, parents should revoke driving privileges and work with the teen to enable her to regain her driving privileges and freedom once again.
Teenagers embrace technology and value the freedom to use electronics for access to information and social connectivity with peers. It’s reasonable to provide a teenager with access to technology, such as a cell phone and a computer. Teach responsible and appropriate use of electronics as well, advises author and parenting expert Amy McCready, with Positive Parenting Solutions. Set boundaries about the times your teen can use electronics and the way your teen can use them. Monitor your teen’s use of the Internet by checking history and social media accounts, advises McCready. Suspend your teen’s access to electronics if he has trouble staying within the boundaries you set.