How Experience Leads to Autonomy for Teens


You keep getting told to act your age, so you do. You do your chores and work hard. But you get treated like your ten. Don’t you wish you could be treated like how you act? Many teens face this and are discouraged by it. 

Teens are expected to act like adults but aren’t treated as such and so it creates a bad connection between the parent and their child. 

Parents that are overprotective or untrusting can be the cause for this problem; they still want to keep their kid close but they need to be able to let their teen grow up with the preparedness that they need.

Parents like this should work on letting their teens grow up and be responsible. They should give advice when needed and be proud of how their teen is progressing.

“Give teens the opportunity to practice decision making,” writes Professor of Human Development Kathleen Boyce Rodgers.  “Children who are allowed to make decisions with parental support and direction because they are the parents that know how to make wise choices and judgments about their behavior even when adults are not present.”

We asked other teens “Do you feel like you are treated like a child but also like an adult?”

Anthony Nuegen said “Yes, I suppose I do but I don’t feel like I’m in a position to argue against it due to the privileges I’ve gotten so far.”

 According to  psychologists Kathleen Boykin McElhaney and Joseph P. Allen, multiple studies show  “the ways that parents handle adolescent striving for autonomy have been consistently linked to both the quality of parent-adolescent relationships and to numerous aspects of adolescent adjustment” 

Parents should trust their teens enough to make decisions that affect them and the teens should make these decisions. These parents should find or make more opportunities for the teens to prove themselves. Being a teen or fresh adult with no clues of how the world functions is very hard. Teens should decide when to shower, do homework and play so that they learn how to manage. Being a capable adult also means that teens need to be able to rely on their parents less.

Adults say that teens need to make choices that are relatively small so that we can have the experience to make the bigger choices but also say that teens aren’t developed enough to make big choices.

Both of us have had the experience in our families of always being wrong in any situation where parents do not want to hear what we have to say because they probably think we are wrong even though they never listened to what we had to say. We give our opinion and it’s ignored just like that letter you sent to Santa Claus. 

So what can teens do? Take more time to look for ways to build your trust with your parents so that when you need to make these choices that matter, you get the ability to have some control and feel like you are now finally your age.