Teenagers: No-win Issues
Dressing, talking, and acting differently than adults helps your teenager feel independent. Most of these objectionable habits and preferences merely reflect conformity with your teen's peer group.
Try not to criticize him about these no-win topics. Too much criticism can destroy your relationship. So back off, as they say. Don't try to change how your teenager wants to look, in terms of clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and so forth. Don't be critical of his music, favorite movies or TV shows, how his room is kept, how free time is spent, his speech, and even his friends, unless they're in trouble with the law.
Allowing your teenager to rebel in these minor areas often prevents testing in major areas, such as experimentation with drugs, truancy, or shoplifting. Intervene and try to make a change only if the behavior is harmful, illegal, or infringes on your rights.
In summary, don't try to forbid behaviors over which you have little control. If it came down to choosing between how your teenager looks and how he behaves, the choice would be easy. Take heart. This posturing is normal; it doesn't reflect on your parenting.
If you have any questions about your teenager's behavior, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.