Compiled by Efrat Hakak, WholeFamily.com Intern
Dr. Michael Tobin's prescriptions for a healthy parent-teen relationship prompted many reactions from our readers. Though some consider the article "a pretty good description of kids and parents today", other claim that "it just won't work" in their circumstance. Here is a sampling of the responses we received.
For several readers, the article helped put teenage rebellion in perspective:
…You see, I come from a strict Italian family where rebellion is the ultimate offence (not to say that it ever stopped any of my sisters, brother or myself), and also the ultimate sign of disrespect. We have each hit a point in our lives with my parents where anything and everything was a battle. I would venture to guess that it is just a part of growing up. What fun (and how much of a learning experience) would it be to just quietly agree to all of our parent's rules?
But some familial problems go far beyond the normal teen-parent clashes described in Dr. Tobin's article. For them, his prescriptions for a loving relationship describe a pipe-dream:
I just read your 11 ways on how to get along with my parents' and I'll tell you with my parents it won't work, especially with my dad. See, he still treats me like a little baby… He sometimes yells at me for no reason. And I can't answer him back, because I am scared of him. He even sometimes hit me, on my back. I was even thinking of running away or committing suicide, because this is not a life, it's a prison. I don't know what to do … he makes me cry every day.
Most teenagers, though, living in the midst of their battles, simply do not see an end to their parental conflicts. They are fighting to gain their independence and their parents' trust, they are struggling to be mature and adult - and nothing seems to help. These teens are pleading for a chance to prove themselves:
I was reading your 11 steps for how teens can get along with their parents, but I noticed that the vast majority of them wouldn't seem to work with my "relationship" with them. Living with my parents actually makes me depressed and unhappy; they find completely ridiculous reasons to ground me, make me feel like a horrible person for little things that I don't mean to do, and have almost caused me to commit suicide 3 times… Just to know that my parents just really don't like me (at least I'm certain that my mother doesn't) completely depresses me. I'm not a bad kid, I know I am not. There are a million other horrible things I could be doing… But whenever they yell and spit at me, and I try to get a word of defense in (in a much more calm and civil manner than they had), I am being disrespectful and malicious (to them). I speak so much more civil and mature than they do 90% of the time, and yet and I am apparently the spawn of Satan (which could possibly have some truth in it, my mom does have a resemblance ha-ha.)
Me and my mother fight CONSTANTLY, I have moved out of my house before, and ran away several times. We DO NOT get along, at all! All I ask of her is to let me be a little bit more independent, and that I need my freedom! She won't let me go anywhere, or do anything with my friends, she always thinks I am going to get in trouble! I will be 16 next month, and I KNOW I am old enough to take care of my self responsibly. She doesn't know that I know the consequences, good or bad, of what i choose, or not to choose, to do. How can i tell her that I can do just fine on my own without her always nagging at me, and keeping me basically under house arrest? …. I hate her for the way she treats me. Like I am some juvenile trouble maker, which I'm not! She hasn't given me a chance to prove myself.
I have started college and fortunately I was able to leave the house and dorm. I thought I would receive more freedom and I guess I do, but not as much as my roommates do. Their parents seem to understand that they are adults and if they make mistakes they will learn from them and plan their life accordingly. Unfortunately I got stuck with a dad who insists I have to go home every weekend, and when I don't go home he comes and visits me. It's cool that he visits and I do like going home but I am not receiving as much freedom as I wish.
Letters from other teens reveal their deep need for parental love and attention. These parents may treat their teens like adults, but forget that they are still their children.
How do you get your parents to listen to you? For example, my mom won't listen to a word I have to say about any thing that goes on in my life - then she's always saying why don't you include me in your problems. Well, you can't include your parents if they don't want to listen to you.
I spent a great deal of my childhood trying to "please" my dad. I thought if I tried harder that would help...it didn't. This past Fri. I graduated from high school and he didn't say congrats, I'm proud of you -- nothing. NOTHING nice came out of his mouth. Instead he bickered at me because my tassel got lost… I've learned when things are beyond repair between you and your parent(s) then you can look to others to be supportive parental role models.
Every parent-teen battle appears unique, and more importantly, appears uniquely stressful. But our readers' responses underscore the fact that such clashes are commonplace, though their intensity may differ from family to family.
Teen battles will probably never be eliminated; they've been occurring for countless years. In many ways, these fights for freedom are integral aspects of the maturing process. Nevertheless, our readers' responses highlight the pain caused by these fights - it is precisely this pain and bitterness that most teens (and their parents) seek to eliminate.
Dr. Tobin's list of prescriptions, you will notice, does not promise a combat-free home. His prescriptions for healthy parent-teen relationships provide a framework for a more mature and loving relationship with your parents, but the best things in life rarely come easy.