Developing, Dating and Driving: A Survival Guide for Parents of Teens

From learning how to drive to dating, and then some, teens can be difficult to manage at times. Here’s some tips for you if you’re at your wit’s end and tearing your hair out.

First, Love

Don’t be too quick to get angry with your teen. Sure, they might do something that makes you angry, but there are a few things to stop and think about before you start retaliating.

First, listen to what your teen is actually saying. This is harder than it initially sounds. For example, if your child gets angry and pitches a fit because he or she can’t go out at night, is that really the primary complaint? In most cases no. It’s not just about going out that night.

Maybe it’s that they don’t feel like they have enough freedom. And, maybe you already know this but you “just can’t” get over the fact that they’re growing up. That’s fine, but that’s also not an answer to the problem. A large issue that develops as teens grow up is a reluctance to go to school. Now obviously giving teens freedom can’t stretch as far as to let them skip school, so you need to find out what to do if your teen hates school, that doesn’t come across as a lecture or attack.

The reality is your teen is growing up. And, they need incremental freedom. Now, that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to do anything they want. This is your home after all.

Your house, your rules.

At the same time, your kid is becoming an adult. They need a range of options – choices, that they can choose from.

Set boundaries, but give them the option of doing one of several things. In the example of going out at night, maybe you offer them the choice of when they come home but stipulate that normal chores still need to be done the next day and there is no compromise on that.

Maybe your teen wants a new car, and you’re reluctant to buy one.

You could give your teen the choice to buy one and pay for all of the related expenses him or herself (most teens underestimate those costs), or drive your vehicle and only pay half those costs.

You could buy your teen a new Shear Comfort seat cover to keep your vehicle (or theirs) clean, and preserve the resale value.

These are all ways to show love without giving up parental responsibility.

Minimize The Pressure

Your teen is a person. An individual. Don’t treat them like a “mini-me” because they will eventually come to resent you for it.

Don’t pressure your teen to be like you were when you were his or her age.

Give them leeway and room to make their own mistakes. Don’t be too quick to rush in with a solution. Why not? While you might want to be protective, you have to realize that solving every problem for a child isn’t helpful. It only teaches them to not think.

Kids have to learn that they are responsible for their own actions. And, letting them fail also allows them the opportunity to come up with their own solutions. Not only does this build self-esteem, but it builds character (unlike washing the dishes, which only builds up prune hands syndrome).

Don’t Give Contradictory Messages

One of the hardest lessons people learn is the lesson that their parents aren’t perfect. But, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. One important way you can show your teen that you’re “still human” and yet a great parent is by not giving the child contradictory messages.

For instance, don’t lecture your teen on the importance of not smoking, while you yourself smoke. Don’t bribe your children (this is very common) because it teaches them that it’s OK to manipulate people (which it isn’t).

You also shouldn’t be a helicopter parent. It sends conflicting messages of “I am willing to give you independence” (if you’ve already said you would) but also “I don’t trust you.” Your teen will learn to do the same to their children.

Finally, always be honest with your child, even when it hurts you. Reality is always good for a growing mind, even if it can sometimes be emotionally unsettling.

teen dating

Aimee Pearce is a freelancer with a passion for writing. She draws on her life experiences when looking for topic inspiration for blog articles; her 2 teens giving plenty to write about!


  1. Eric @ Cynical Parent says

    Great tips, Aimee. I don’t have a teen yet (still have several years before embarking on THAT journey), but it sounds like I’m in for some challenging times. It seems manageable though, based on what you’ve written here.

    All the best,

  2. most adults can’t afford to buy a new car, so I think a teen should prob stick with a used one…I’m curious though, our province offers free driver ed to the school kids, during the school class time etc, and I know Alberta didnt (and perhaps still doesn’t) but does yours?

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