Does your teenager often want to be left alone and be independent from you? Do they run when they see you coming or lock themselves in their room for hours on end? Better yet, do they throw tantrums when you refuse to let them see their friends because they haven't done their homework or chores?
Have no fear, as a parent you haven't done anything wrong!
This type of behavior is normal and is in fact healthy; it's behavior that is expected when looking at the Stages of the Family Life Cycle. Rather than go through all the stages I will only focus on Stage One, as it's the most relevant to what I am going to discuss.
What is Stage One of the Family Life Cycle?
Stage One--Between Families: The Unattached Young Adult
a. Youth want to be seen as separate and different from their family
b. Youth want to develop relationships with their peers
c. Youth need to establish themselves through employment
If you want your teenager or young adult to be independent and form healthy long term relationships, then it's important that they are sometimes given the opportunity to form an identity independent of you.
I know, I know..."What!" You say, "They need me around them 24/7, you don't know what they do when I'm not around!" You are right, only you can be the expert on your child, consider me as an alternative voice that you can choose to accept or ignore.
Parental approval and guidance is important and youth do care about what you have to say. Teenagers may sneer and act like they don't care but secretly they are smiling and feeling elated, somebody cares! Nonetheless, teens need independence from their families, it helps them:
Form healthy long term relationships!
Who wouldn't want this for their teenager or young adult? Unless of course you want your teen to be living with you for life, and drain every imaginable resource and free time you have left!...sorry, I digress, forgive me.
When you know what your about and can think, feel and stand up for yourself and what you believe in, it's easier to find someone to share this with. It's harder when you're clueless about who you are because there was a lack of opportunity to take risks, explore, discover yourself, make mistakes and recover on your own. Allowing your teen to act independently from your decisions allows them to discover their strengths and potential.
Here is another way of looking at it. How many of us like to be micromanaged at work? As an employee it's very difficult to be fully developed, discover your strengths and build independence when you're being micromanaged. It stunts your growth and it makes you forever reliant on your boss for every decision made, you have no autonomy. You can forget about ever applying for a higher position because you have not developed the skill set of independent decision making. The same concept applies to teenagers, they need space and the opportunity to be autonomous for their own personal growth.