How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Tween
As a parent of a young adult, you may find yourself walking on eggshells to preserve a good-natured relationship. As your child reconciles with the tribulations of puberty and adolescence, they will increasingly value privacy, which gives them the ability to form their sense of self that is distinct from your familial beliefs. While this will come as a harsh realization, recognizing this point of contention in your relationship will push you to establish healthy boundaries early in their adolescence. Although their desire for privacy will fluctuate and evolve as they face new challenges, mutually agreed upon boundaries will strengthen your parent-child relationship as they age. The following tips will prepare you to tackle the intricacies of parental boundaries as your child grows into adulthood.
Every Child is Unique
The concept of privacy with teenagers is extremely nuanced, and requires case by case sensitivity. As you establish the bounds of your relationship, it is important to remember that every child desires a unique level of parental advice on personal matters – you should adapt your parenting strategy accordingly. On one end, you should be working to ensure that you are satisfying your child’s needs for a reasonably invested parent, so they feel supported as they tackle the insecurity and anxiety inherent to puberty. Conversely, you must consider the formative nature of this time in their life, and the valuable opportunity for teens to explore relationships and new experiences independently. A healthy level of privacy is crucial for them to form a strong sense of identity and self-reliance, without being restricted by overbearing parents. Because every child is unique, you should never assume that they want the same level of privacy as your other children, yourself or their friends.
Find a Balance
The majority of parent-child clashes stem from an inability to establish a healthy balance between privacy and parental direction. Although it comes from a place of concern, being overbearing in your child’s private troubles can cause them to push back and reject your advice on important matters. Probing into personal struggles may drive a wedge between you and your child, ultimately becoming counterproductive to making them feel cared for. While it takes practice, you will learn how to strike a balance in your parental boundaries, by observing your child’s response to your guidance, and asking for an honest review of your current approach. There is no rule book to parenting – it is up to you to understand the perfect balance for your child.
It’s a Two-Way Street
Realize that the parental boundaries you choose to establish are equally as important to your mental wellness as they are to your child. Agreements surrounding privacy go two ways, and it is important to communicate your own desires for privacy in your personal life, and ensure your child does not overstep. Given your mutual need for boundaries, your approach to setting these boundaries should involve asking your child for input regarding their wants and needs from your parenting, while inputting your own. By acknowledging your own desires as a person – not a parent, will make these tricky discussions feel less intrusive to your child and allow them to see you as an equal. Clearly defined boundaries will also help build a more meaningful relationship with your child, encouraging them to inquire about the areas of your life where you welcome their support. You may find it meaningful to share your own relevant experiences with puberty, and your journey through adolescence.
Discuss Privacy on Social Media
The age of social media has eroded our ability to maintain a sense of privacy in our lives.
This has increased the ability for parents and children to breach privacy boundaries, and sleuth into personal matters. Naturally, this has widened the wedge between parents and their children, as adolescents further try to conceal their online behaviour, in resistance to their parents’ curiosity. To avoid relinquishing supervision over your child’s social media presence, it is vital that you commit to a mutually understood level of privacy. This may look like permission to follow one another, but restrict one another from access to personal messages. You should establish boundaries on social media that comprises your respective comfort levels. Whatever balance you determine, it is important to revisit this boundary on a regular basis, ensuring you both feel supported and included in each other’s lives, without sacrificing the asset of privacy.