Fighting Between Parents and Teenagers

Anyone who has a teenager is probably familiar with the term conflict. In fact, most adolescents seem to come by this state of being quite naturally. There are many important misunderstandings that occur both with the parent and with the adolescent, that, if recognized would not only reduce conflict, but strengthen the relationship, even if it seems there is hardly one there. While arguments between a parent and their teen is not of itself a bad thing, the manner in which we choose to resolve theses disagreements is what ultimately determines the outcome and anxiety each encounters.

Lonely Railroad

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. -- Robert Frost

Help Me with my Teen!

In order for your child to mature into an adolescent, they must first push the limits of their former existence. It is only through this push for independence that they truly find autonomy as an adult. The struggle for a parent however, is being able to relinquish control while still enforcing strong, healthy boundaries. This becomes even more important when you consider there are more than 24,500 different street gangs in the United States today. And according to a recent National Gangs Trends Survey, that translates to about 772,500 teens and young adults who have lost their way. And this is not simply the U.S. Teenage gangs exist in all other western countries, including Canada and those in Europe. As staggering as these numbers may appear, there is hope for even these situations.

Raising any adolescent is a lesson in understanding, negotiating, and patience and while every parent feels overwhelmed at times, often, outside help provides an opportunity to increase communication and the relationship with your child. Even though your teen may not be headed for a gang, parent/teen counseling can bring a neutral voice and new perspective to the table, helping both you and your teen develop a healthy, caring relationship for the future.

The Deep Inner Struggle of Teenagers

Erik Erickson said of the teenage years, that the primary conflict that exists in the heart of every teenager is Identity vs. Role Confusion. This conflict is at the core of the young person, it is a crisis within them that drives them to find the answer. They are searching for a clear understanding of who they are as individuals, while at the same time filtering through the confusion that others and society in general would say that they are or should be. They want to know who they are, they want to know their unique place in the world. But so many external pressures and voices tell them so many different things, they tell them how to act, what to do, what they should be, how they should live, etc. It therefore becomes extremely difficult for a teenager to reach a place of inner peace with knowing who they are, and where they belong. Sadly, teens are drawn to gangs because a gang gives them an identity, a place to "belong"...the gang answers this crisis within them. Teens are powerfully drawn to anything that tells them "You belong here, you are significant here, you are unique here." If parents could see the teenager through this kind of lens, having an understanding for the deep issues within the teenage heart, it would be a powerful ally in aiding their relationship with their teens.

Why Are the Teen Years So Difficult?

Working through the teenage years is just as hard, and probably harder, for your teen as it is you, the adult. As parents we learn how to nurture and control our children as they grow from babies into young children. Most of the rules and boundaries we put on them are to keep them close and safe. As they reach the adolescent years however, our children’s natural instinct is to pull away and develop a sense of autonomy from the family. For many parents, this can instill a sense of sheer panic and for a teen, whether they admit it or not, stepping out of the nest for the first time can be extremely scary. It is a tense and emotional time for everyone.

Growing up is a tough business. Teens are faced with creating an entirely new self-image independent of their parents and siblings. Not only are they faced with emotional upheavals caused by an influx of hormones and their growing ability to rationalize as an adult, but they must also contend with the inevitable physical changes that accompany young adulthood. Doubts and fears about almost everything become the norm and as we quickly realize, learning how to successfully and appropriately assert their authority is nothing less than a work in progress. As such, much of the typical behavior of our teens is simply their way of working out the kinks. As parents, if we can learn to understand and as hard as it may be at times, sympathize with their struggle, we can possibly ease the ensuing battles.

How Do I Know If We Need Help?

For the most part, all teens are rebellious, self-focused, argumentative, critical, and moody. Often, they can become somewhat aggressive, talking loudly, showing off, and otherwise being obnoxious. As annoying as these behaviors may be, they are all part of the natural adolescent learning curve. As a parent however, you must also be able to recognize when these behaviors become self-destructive and dangerous to you or other family members and the community in general.

There are typical warning signs that should signal the need for outside help. If your teen becomes physically aggressive with you or people outside the home, this is a sure sign things are out of control. Drug and alcohol abuse are definite cries for help. Skipping school, inappropriate sexual behavior, running away, and breaking the law are all indications it’s time to obtain the professional help your teen needs. If you find you are continually overwhelmed, losing your temper, constantly yelling, hitting, or bullying your teen to maintain control and discipline, then this is also a good sign an impartial voice is needed to get things back on track.

When our children reach puberty our lives change dramatically. Our cute, cuddly children suddenly become moody, rebellious teenagers and as their parents, we are often left feeling alone and helpless. For them, it is a time of great confusion, fear and doubt. Although discord during these times is inevitable, with counseling and support both you and your teen can work through these conflicts and enjoy a healthy, loving relationship, while still affording them a sense of self-worth and healthy independence that will carry them through into adulthood.

Counseling for Parent / Teen Conflict

At Theravive, we approach conflict between a parent and teenage as an opportunity to develop communication skills as well as understanding for the stage of life the teen is experiencing. Ultimately, the goal is to develop or enhance the relationship between mother and teen, father and teen, or in same cases to address issues of sibling rivalry that may have consumed the focus of the family.

In any of these cases, identifying the issues, and working through these problems is an integral part of counseling. Once the anger, frustration, or confusion is addresses, individual have the opportunity to learn about each other and begin to acknowledge their teen as a separate and unique individual. It is through this understanding that a new relationship develops.

While your child will always remain your child, this is a time of develop and change for your teen where he / she is looking for self-worth, a purpose, and a sense of identity and direction for their future. Your Theravive counselor works to resolve conflict and open the lines of communication so that while this personal process of self-discovery is necessary for each teen, it can also be a time when the parent / teen relationship can grow during this journey.

If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.


Find a Counselor or Therapist Now

Note: If you need help finding a therapist, please contact us