13 June, 2017
Why Teenagers Need Space
Sometimes, giving your teen her space is inevitable -- especially when it's requested in the form of a slammed bedroom door. But your teen's need for a little space stems from her development from teen into young adult and eventually, fully-functioning adult. While it might be hard to step back, giving space within healthy parameters can actually help your teen become more mature and fortify your parent-child relationship.
While you might wish your teen would stay your baby forever, she's growing up. By giving her some space, whether it's in her room or when making important decisions on her own, you help to foster the sense of identity and independence your teen will eventually need to transition into adulthood. When you hover or force your teen to make certain decisions, you remove that sense of independence, instead promoting dependence on you for everything. Let your teen have the space and autonomy to make decisions, but also to reap the consequences of her actions.
When you spy on your teen, you send a clear message: I don't trust you. Giving your teen a little space when it comes to things like using technology, spending time with friends or choosing leisure activities, lets your teen know you trust her judgment. Of course, it's a two-way street -- your teen must earn your trust before you give it freely, and it can be taken away when she takes advantage of her new-found freedom inappropriately.
Your teen craves privacy from time to time, and it's not always linked to poor behavior. Your teen experiences a natural pull away from you as a parent, which helps prep her for adulthood. In an article for Psychology Today, psychotherapist Elizabeth Donovan notes that privacy should be a privilege in your home, doled out on the basis of consistency, responsibility and integrity. When your teen exhibits all three, she can enjoy some privacy -- that ability to pick and choose what she wants to tell you as her parent.
As a parent, the amount of space you give your teen should be calculated based upon her past decisions and your level of trust. Giving your teen space doesn't mean ignoring her, but rather respecting her right to privacy, having a space of her own and choosing not to tell you something if she doesn't want to. Still, maintaining an open, communicative relationship builds a foundation for mutual trust. The stronger this foundation, the more comfortably you can give your teen some space without completely giving her free rein. By remaining a guiding force for your teen, you can give her a little leeway without the risk of her taking advantage of her new independence.
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