Parenting In Focus: Independence versus neglect

  • Wednesday, February 10, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Sure, your teen wants and even needs lots of independence. This is the last step before he becomes legally an adult. So what should a parent do?

This is a time to continue to give more and more decisions over to him; it is not the time, however, to give up all the decisions. It is not just a matter of letting go; it is a matter of letting go safely. You are the adult who has the best ability to decide.

You are the adult who has the best ability to decide. If he gets a ticket, take the car away. If he fails a class, take away some privileges. If he is not always truthful, take some action.

On the other hand, if you see that he drives carefully, extend his driving privileges. If he is doing well at school, be sure to praise him. If he levels with you, be open to his requests.

We know that adolescence is a tumultuous time for him and for most teens. When you see him behaving responsibly, give him more. When you see irresponsibility, go slower. Take it step by step.

Parents of teenagers have much more power with their child than they may think they have. When you ask him to do something like his homework or to help with the yardwork and he says “no,” just calmly tell him the consequences of his “no.”

This is an age when he may want to visit a friend or need some

money for a movie. Usually you are the one who has to say “OK” to these things. If he does not cooperate, he loses these privileges. Don’t argue, nag, or holler about it; just let him feel the consequences.

If you have been letting him get away with refusing to do what you ask, it may take him awhile before he believes you. Stick with it. He will get the idea pretty soon.

Just a quick note

Anyone knows that by the time your child reaches high school, it is silly to send her a valentine.


Anytime is a good time to tell your child you love her. In fact, by this age, you have to look carefully to find the chance to tell her you love her.

In most ways, your child is growing up fast. But is some important other ways she is still a child. Besides her age, who doesn’t like to hear that she is loved.

So leave the valentine where she can find it, make sure you have a big hug to go with it, and celebrate this very important holiday.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to or call 360-681-2250.

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