Saturday, July 12, 2008

Raising Adolescents: The Myth of Control

As a girl of my acquaintance emerged into adolescence, her parents relentlessly tried to control her behavior. Each time she did something they disapproved of they vainly tried to reestablish the control they had over her in childhood. The daughter responded by becoming ever more disobedient and devious. The escalation ended in an unwanted pregnancy, abortion, bitterness and estrangement. In short, the costs to all involved far exceeded the benefits.

There is a moral to this story — one every parent of an adolescent needs to know. Do not cling to the myth that you can still have the same level of control you had when your child was young. Such attempts are not only futile, but also counterproductive..

For good or ill, adolescents pretty much control their own lives particularly in today’s world Yes, those who respect their parent(s) often avoid doing things because they don’t want to embarrass or disappoint them. But this is something the adolescent, not the parent, chooses. Gentle parental influence remains, certainly; but being able to insure compliance is over forever.

To examine these issues further, see articles at

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