What you need to know:
- The second facet is where the adolescent is trying to take on more responsibility for themselves, thereby becoming less dependent on their parents.
- They move away from the family unit and lean more towards their peers.
- When this separation happens, some parents might feel like their children are withdrawing from them and becoming distant
The first time she allowed her eldest daughter to spend the night out with friends, Alice was quite nervous. Yet when her youngest child ran out the door when she reached adulthood, she didn’t feel the same way at all. By that time, Alice had realised that freedom is part of growing up, and that she needed to trust her kids.
Trust. Letting go. Boundaries. Freedom. These are very important elements to any parent with a tween or teen in the house.
“In my experience, a child who knows he is trusted at home will be less likely to break the trust,” she says.
Research shows that adolescents who enjoy some sort of controlled freedom at home record lower levels of depression. They are also less likely to develop anti-social behavior. This shows that parents should avoid micron managing their children.
So, what is independence and how can parents allow their adolescent children the freedom they need without compromising on the set boundaries?
Independence consists of two facets, the first being separation, both the physical separating, when adolescents are spending more time away from home and without adult supervision, and emotional separation from parents.
The second facet is where the adolescent is trying to take on more responsibility for themselves, thereby becoming less dependent on their parents. They move away from the family unit and lean more towards their peers.
The study suggests that girls who were granted independence by both mothers and fathers had lower depressive mood disorders, whereas boys who achieved autonomy from their mothers found it easier to handle life challenges.
When this separation happens, some parents might feel like their children are withdrawing from them and becoming distant, or that they are losing their control over their children. Many actually view this change as a loss, yet it is normal, and in fact a sign of positive development.” says Alice.
What parents should do at this stage of their child’s development is to support the change.
“As humans, we all desire to have an element of control over our lives. That is what adolescents crave.”
“I had so many disagreements with my adolescent daughters which messed our relationship because they began to question my authority. They started to fight against the rules in our home,” she says
Alice says that the rebellion is normal, adding that, “Parents don’t want children who are going to be conformists throughout their lives. If they don’t do it at home, where else are they going to learn to question things in the security of the h9me environment?”
Deciding just how much freedom to give can be a challenge, but you have to make the decision. You can allow a child quite a lot of psychological autonomy while still maintaining strict rules at home.
Some things, especially those that touch on safety, are just not open to negotiation. And Alice believes that when this is properly communicated, adolescents are likely to adopt such rules.
However, they are less likely to see why parents should control things such as what time they have their meals, what they eat, their choice of clothing, how they organise their bedroom, who their friends are or where they hang out with their peers.
Alice encourages parents to look for ways to give adolescents freedom in a safe way.