It is well-known that parents can find teenagers very challenging. However, this is part of the natural journey from childhood to adulthood. The brain rewires during the teen years and this makes it difficult for teenagers to control their emotions and impulses. Therefore, it is important to offer guidance to teenagers whilst allowing them to find their own identity.
So what is the best parenting style? Parents who are firm with their teenagers but also good listeners tend to have the least problems. These parents set clear boundaries for their teenagers such as a curfew when going out in the evening and expectations regarding completing homework. However, they allow their children to question their beliefs and will consider their views. They also give consequences such as grounding when their teenager does not follow the rules. Research shows that teenagers who have parents who are firm and who are also good listeners tend be independent, have good social skills and do well at school (Baumrind, 1991).
Strict parents also set clear boundaries but they expect their teenagers to obey them without question. They tend to over-ride their children’s views and opinions, which can leave teenagers feeling resentful. Teenagers with strict parents tend to do well at school but they have poorer social skills and lower self-esteem (Baumrind, 1991).
Indulgent parents are good listeners but they avoid conflict and do not expect their teenagers to take responsibility for their behaviour.
For example, they may not confront their children for staying out late or give a consequence for getting drunk on a school trip.
Teenagers with indulgent parents tend to do worse at school but they do have high self-esteem and good social skills.
Uninvolved parents do not set rules for their teenagers and do not really get involved in their children’s lives either. At the extreme, this could be classed as neglectful parenting. Teenagers with uninvolved parents fare the worst as they have low self-esteem and are more likely to have behavioural problems (Baumrind, 1991).
As a parent it can be difficult to get the fine balance between setting boundaries and listening to our children but we should endeavour to try our best. If we know we are too lenient, then we shouldn’t be afraid of conflict with our children. If we know we are too strict, the we should allow a little debate from our teenagers.