Fostering Teen Individuality and Independence


We all want to be who we want to be.  Most adults feel this way, so you can only imagine how true this is for teenagers.

This is where individuality comes into play.  As parents we have to learn how to foster this.  At the same time, as our teens get older, we also need to foster independence.  They need to be ready for that time in which they leave home.

As soon as you try to stifle a teen’s individuality or you don’t allow for healthy growth toward independence, you stand in the way of having a good relationship.  Everything becomes a battle.

Of course, there are still lines that have to be drawn.  Individuality doesn’t mean you allow you anything and everything.  There must be boundaries.  What those are will be different for every family.

For instance, we know that “skinny jeans” are the big fad right now.  My personal belief is that it’s not a big deal.  But I have a friend who is adamantly against them because, as she describes them, must be put on the same way you would nylons.

Ear gauges are another example.  My daughter would love to stretch her lobes much farther than I will allow.  I have permitted the smallest size but I won’t bend on letting her go any further.

In other words, she has her individuality in wearing the earrings but there are boundaries as to how far she can go.  I’m sure there are parents who wouldn’t allow even that much.

Then you have the issues with independence.  When is it okay for a teen to get their driver’s license?  Or work?  Or hang out with friends past 10 p.m.?

You want your teen to have some independence but how far should the leash be loosened?  It’s a question we all deal with at different stages and in varying degrees.

There are no easy answers.  But in the end, the goal as a parent should be learning how to foster individuality and independence.