Why It’s Important To Give Teens More Freedom

Why It’s Important To Give Teens More Freedom

As a parent who is fully aware of negative social influences on young people, you might be inclined to provide your teenager with more guidance and structure than they appear willing to accept.

Unfortunately, you may have noticed that the more you try to reason with them, explaining the reason for your family rules, the more they appear to tune you out. This, to say the least, can be very frustrating.

Even simple, logical ideas are met with resistance. If you said something like: “The reason why you should do your homework is because it will make it easier to get good grades and the better your grades, the more likely you are to get into a good college which will increase your chances of getting into a six-figure career.” You can you expect defiance rather than compliance.

In fact, you may even be giving up your own freedom to make sure that they stay on the straight and narrow. Perhaps, for example, you stay home more often than you would like because you are concerned with what would happen if you went on a business trip or a weekend getaway. However, your fears of your teenager throwing a wild party and trashing the house are greatly exaggerated. With home security systems that come equipped with security cameras, which you can access from your tablet or smartphone, it’s almost silly to restrict your own freedom and that of your adolescent.

Let’s take a deeper look at this issue of freedom and why it matters so much for teens that they are even willing to take foolish risks, lie, and break rules—despite many long years of being perfectly sensible, honest, and agreeable.

1. An evolutionary urge

The more restrictions, real or imagined, you put in their way, the greater their desire for autonomy, even at the risk of safety or hurting your feelings. The desire for freedom, for unmitigated self-expression, is almost a blind teleological urge in the quest for self-identity.

2. A tip from neuroscience

Although your child may appear rational enough, their frontal lobe is still developing. In fact, it’s only fully developed in their twenties. This means that what appears perfectly reasonable and sensible to you is not fully comprehended by your teen. Their brain literally does not compute your line of reasoning. They interpret it far less accurately than they let you know. However, due to an increase in hormones, they are much more emotional. This makes them dismiss your idea from the start rather than bothering to see things from your point of view. Moreover, they also believe that they are close to invincible. Their brain does not register the fact that driving fast in snow or rain is dangerous, that promiscuity results in pregnancies, and that drugs are highly addictive.

3. Hidden social agendas

Your teen does not live in a vacuum but in a dynamic environment with many pernicious influences. Fitting in with their peers, belonging to a group, is far more powerful than you might imagine. As an adult, you’ve probably learned through experience to discriminate between positive groups and negative ones. Well, they don’t have the experience to be able to make such clear distinctions.

On top of this, they and their peers are deeply influenced by commercial interests. For instance, did you know that it’s no coincidence that there are so many neighborhood stores selling tobacco near schools? It’s called profiling. There is more going on in the environment to feed their new spirit of rebellion than meets the eye. When you start to look around objectively, you’ll find plenty of negative suggestions from commercial interests, media, and peers. In addition, the underground drug and sex cartels are always seeking to win new customers.

Simple Steps to Take

It’s a pointless struggle trying to keep them safe using the strategies that worked so well in their childhood. You have to let them have more freedom, but, unfortunately, you can’t expect them to use it with a full sense of responsibility. The current wisdom among psychologists is to set a clear curfew, define your expectations, stay in contact through a cell phone, use family talk to retain rapport, and enforce consequences when they break the rules.


  1. Justin James says

    Nice Article. Freedom is important for teens but some time you need aware for your teen.

  2. Rosie says

    This is good information. Things have changed from when I was a kid for sure. My parents were considered strict, but nowadays they’d be considered liberal. I know that it helped to become an independent thinker and to be able to make good decisions. Some kids seem to need more supervision, as there are many dangers out there.

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