Changes in Communication Between Teenagers and Parents

Kristi Harris, Reporter

As children reach their early teen years, the relationship between them and their parents change. The changes depend on how close the child is with their parents, but typically teenagers start to rebel against their parents. They don’t necessarily want their parents to be part of their social life. This isn’t the only problem; they also start keeping things from their parents. The reason for this is usually because they don’t connect on the same level and they feel like they can’t talk very openly.

This rebellion is a natural process, teenagers are growing up and becoming more independent. They don’t want to rely on their parents for everything like they did when they were younger. The independence shift is what leads the way in changing the parent-child relationship. They don’t mind spending time together, they go to their parents with anything they need help with, they tell them if they’re sad about something, or if they get hurt. That is what a parent’s job is, to nurture and guide their children till they are old enough to do it themselves. The hardest part for a parent is accepting that their children are growing up and don’t need them as much for these things.

Some parents have a hard time understanding the changes their teenager is going through. Although they were teenagers once too, times have changed and not everyone has the same difficulties in their teenage years. Teenagers often think that their parents don’t understand them. They are going through physical and emotional changes, school and life is becoming more stressful, and they want to spend more time with their friends rather than at home. This could be an insult to parents because they feel like they don’t want to be home or with family. Deep down, they still care about being with their family even if they don’t act like it, but they also consider their friends as family.

Most of the time teenagers may act like they don’t want to talk to their parents about anything and all they need is their friends. Sometimes that isn’t the case.  They always need their parents especially when they are going through a difficult time in their life. Girls are more known for opening up to their mom’s about what is going on but sometimes they feel like they can’t. A common worry for parents once their kids hit the teen years is that they will get into drug and alcohol use. What they need to pay more attention to, particularly with girls, is mental illness. A survey done by the mental health charity, YoungMinds, show that most girls from thirteen to twenty one believed mental health is a serious concern. Teenage girls felt misunderstood by adults, they felt like they couldn’t talk about their problems. Adults don’t notice the pressure these teen girls are under, but most girls in the same age range recognized another girl’s’ mental health problem, like depression and eating disorders.  They just didn’t know what to say about it.  It appears that focus here is more important than the age old don’t do drugs campaign.

There are ways that parents can prevent their kids from feeling this way. Each family is different and there are resources available with a little research. There are a lot of different reasons for someone to be depressed. With teenagers, it could come from social media. It puts a lot of pressure on them to be perfect. They feel like they have to have perfect bodies, perfect clear skin, have to get perfect grades, and have a big group of friends so they don’t seem like outcasts. If parents could sit down and talk with them and tell them that too much social media isn’t good for their mental health it could help them in the long run. Parents may also want to restrict certain sites like Instagram, Facebook, twitter, etc., that contain many negative self esteem messages. This goes for girls as well as boys. Of course, it’s not just girls that have pressure on them; boys do too. They worry about their weight and if they have enough muscle to look manly. They also have the pressure of being athletic because that’s what makes you “popular” not just with friends but the girls too.

This is often the point in a child’s life where they fight more with their parents. It could be about a lot of things, maybe the parents feels like their teenager is spending too much time with a certain boy or girl, or they aren’t focusing enough on school, or they are hanging out with the wrong crowd and they notice a difference in their attitude. This may lead to the parent giving them an earlier curfew, grounding them, or just becoming more strict. Teenagers definitely don’t like being told no; they like to be able to do what they want, when they want. This could then lead to the teenager rebelling against their parents, it’s sort of a domino effect.

There is a way to avoid this behavior. Communication is vital but only works if there are already established and consistent rules in place.  It’s best that they let their teenager know that they trust that they aren’t out doing something they shouldn’t be. Of course sometimes the teenager really is doing something irresponsible or dangerous and they need to focus more on school. Maybe the child is going through something that the parent doesn’t know about. The parent should sit down with them and talk about what is going on in his/her life. Depending on what they talk about, the parent can decide what to do and how to help them.

If nothing serious is going on and they’re just going through the typical teenage rebellious stage, the parent could work out something with their child. If they try harder in school, get their grades up, and have a better attitude they will get an award. Communication is all they really need; it gives both flexibility and trust.  That’s the key to having a healthy relationship with anyone. Some of the time, the teenager is going through a rebellion stage that is worse than usual. They don’t want to do anything to fix their problem.  That happens and they just have to learn from their mistakes.  All their parents can do is be there for them as much as the teenager will let them. Eventually, they will find their way back on the right track.

The teenage years are a difficult time but they don’t have to face it by themselves, their parents should be there for them. They should be as involved in their child’s life as either can agree to.


Resources:,, swedlow free psychology, The Atlantic