During the teenage years children tend to try to separate themselves from their parents’ influence in an attempt to assert their autonomy. In doing so you may feel your teen is pushing you away or withholding information about their lives (e.g. friends, what they are doing, where they are). As a result you may feel that you do not know your child as well as you would like and that you do not have much influence on their choices. Below is a list of common reasons why teens decide not to share things with their parents.
In summary, the parenting strategies that teens describe as effective in encouraging them to open up and share with their parents include listening attentively, showing emotional support, expressing an understanding of their feelings and experiences, honouring their secrets, showing appreciation for who they are becoming, and taking time to have fun with them.
Try to keep in mind that your child’s attempt to reduce your influence is an important stage in the development of their identity and the establishment of a health self-esteem. Rest assured that studies find that in early adulthood youth’s values and behaviours end up more like their parents then the friends they had as teenagers.
Written by Dr. Kim Saliba
Clinical & School Psychologist