There are many styles of parenting within a wide range of cultural and personal norms, most of which can work quite well. You probably know parents who are very strict and parents who are quite lenient. You know families in which religion is very important and families in which sports, music, or the arts are encouraged. I’m sure you’re aware of teens from these different styles of families who are just fine, and others who are struggling. Strict parents can have problems with their teens, as can parents with a more relaxed style. Religious and non-religious families alike may have well-behaved and successful teenagers, yet they may experience challenging and difficult situations with their teens as well.
Additionally, many parents feel the pressure to be “a perfect parent.” Let me reassure you that nobody parents perfectly. When it comes to raising kids, we’ve all done things that mental health professionals would advise against doing. We all get angry, and most of us raise our voices sometimes. We may lecture ineffectively, punish our kids for doing something they didn’t know was wrong, overindulge, over-support, underindulge, and under-support. We give our teenagers guidance and set limits when they would probably be better off making decisions and learning about consequences on their own. Or we fail to step in to offer guidance or set limits when they truly need us to.
This is ordinary family life! Despite their parents’ human imperfections, kids can and do thrive, growing up to lead happy and successful lives.
I am not trying to convince you that nothing we do makes any difference, nor am I trying to encourage you to be thoughtless as a parent. I am saying that there is a wide range of values and approaches that can be equally effective, and being a perfect parent is impossible.
So, let’s be clear: there is no “right kind of family,” there is no such thing as a perfect family, and all families have problems. So, if you are struggling with your teenager, please don’t decide that you are a bad parent or that you have a bad kid. Let’s just decide that you are a parent looking for a better way to understand and deal with problems you’re having with your teenager. And that’s a good thing.
**an excerpt from Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle by Neil D. Brown, LCSW