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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

Learning Independence: Common Mistakes Parents Make with Teens

As parents, we all want what's best for our teenagers. We strive to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to navigate the world independently. However, in our efforts to foster independence, we sometimes inadvertently make mistakes that hinder, rather than help, their growth. In this blog we will explore some of the common mistakes parents make when trying to foster independence in their teens.


It's natural to want to shield our teens from harm, but being overprotective can stifle their development. Constantly wanting to be involved, micromanaging their lives, or refusing to let them take risks can breed dependency and inhibit their ability to make decisions on their own.

Lack of Communication

Effective communication is key to fostering independence. Yet, many parents fall into the trap of either being too authoritarian or too lenient in their approach. Finding a balance between setting boundaries and allowing open dialogue is essential for building trust and mutual respect.

Doing Everything for Them

It's tempting to step in and solve our teens' problems for them, but this takes away the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Whether it's completing their homework, resolving conflicts with friends, or managing their schedules, doing everything for them prevents them from developing problem-solving skills and resilience. It’s important to let them take ownership for these situations.

Unrealistic Expectations

Parents often have high expectations for their teens, which can lead to pressure and stress. Pushing them too hard to excel in academics, sports, or extracurricular activities without considering their individual interests and abilities can backfire, causing burnout and oftentimes, resentment.

Failure to Set Boundaries

While independence is important, it's equally crucial to establish boundaries and guidelines. Without clear expectations around issues such as curfews, screen time, and household responsibilities, teens may struggle to understand their responsibilities and may engage in risky behavior.

Ignoring Emotional Needs

Teenagers are navigating a myriad of emotions as they transition to adulthood. Ignoring or dismissing their feelings can lead to feelings of isolation and inadequacy. It's essential for parents to validate their emotions, offer support, and provide a safe space for them to express themselves.

Lack of Role Modeling

Children learn by example, so it's important for parents to model independence in their own lives. If parents are overly reliant on their teens for emotional support, constantly seek their approval, or avoid taking risks themselves, it sends mixed messages and undermines the lesson of self-reliance.

Teaching independence to teens is a delicate balance that requires patience, communication, and empathy. By avoiding these common mistakes and fostering a supportive environment that encourages autonomy and growth, parents can empower their teens to become confident, self-reliant adults ready to tackle the challenges of the world.


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