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Negotiating Independence with Your Teenage Daughter

Updated on December 28, 2015

So, feeling the anxiety of handling the demands and expectations of your teenage daughter and balancing them out with her social safety, mental growth & health? Even though your daughter has now entered her teens you still need to be a parent. Everyone knows that teenage is a confusing and trying time irrespective of gender. This is a time when ‘kids’ want to delve into new adventures. To make things a little bit easier for your young adult daughter you need to support and nurture her desires while subtly protecting her. This is where your ability to negotiate (and you thought you’d done enough of that at the workplace and the grey market) comes handy.

What needs to be worked on?

Teenage Daughter Sitting Alone
Teenage Daughter Sitting Alone

As a parent it is your duty to understand that teenagers like to explore their new found independence. Smart parents also understand that they would rather have their daughter tell them and hang out late with her friends than sneak out in the middle of the night to do the same. But offering unlimited freedom to a young adult is as bad as keeping them under your thumb. So negotiation becomes the most important skill you need to possess when you have a teenager in the house.

  • It is normal for a teenager to be a little insistent. It is the duty of a parent to be the mature negotiator and if necessary, take sensible amount of time to decide about a plan, be it a weekend movie plan or a sleepover with friends.
  • Always be sure to look at the plans from your daughter’s perspective as well. This will help both of you reach middle grounds. For example, you may agree to let her go out for movies with her friends in the evening but state it to her clearly that you want her home by 10.
  • Make sure that she understands that some things are non-negotiable, like drinking and driving, missing school, or staying out all night without telling where she is, letting boys sleep in her room etc.
  • Keep your emotions in check. If you lose your temper on your child, it inevitably backfires and leads into an erupting teenager. You may want to take time out of a conversation if you think both of you are moving in circles and getting irritated. Set some specific time for the discussion, say, next day after school or during dinner.

The Keys of Negotiating Independence with Headstrong Teenage Daughters

Teenage Daughter In Doubt
Teenage Daughter In Doubt
  1. You need your child to be self-reliant and hence give her the room for deciding what is right and what is wrong. You can weigh in only if she is being irrational or risky.
  2. You should let your daughters make a few mistakes as long as they do not leave a lasting negative impact on their lives. Retorting back to Freudian theories, a person should be allowed to learn from his/her mistakes.
  3. You should make cohesive decisions which will help your daughter to build self-confidence and understand life values.
  4. Respect is mutual; respecting your daughter’s decisions and values will allow your daughter to learn how to respect you and other family members who have concerns for her wellbeing.

Teenage Daughter with Mother
Teenage Daughter with Mother

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The secret of good parenting is the art of listening; you need to understand what your daughter requests, judge the pros and cons, and make a sound bargain. It is imperative that you express your concerns in a manner acceptable to your teenage daughter. It is of utmost importance that your zeal to protect your teenager does not suffocate her, or make her feel incapacitated.

Raising an independent and responsible young adult

Teenage daughter discussing with mother
Teenage daughter discussing with mother

You must remember that giving them independence is not the end of the story; they should also be taught how to exercise their independence. This is an intricate process because it calls upon your daughter’s decision making skills. Although initially you might find it difficult to accept, you must remember that mollycoddling isn’t going to help her transition into adulthood either. Here are a few pointers to make it easier for the both of you:

  1. Sit down and talk about her plans and why she wants to exercise them.
  2. Help her comprehend the pros and cons of her actions.
  3. If she makes mistakes do not take the most extreme action or hold an intervention. You must understand that most teenagers are confused and angry with the changes in and around them. They crave for a second chance to rectify their mistakes.
  4. Give her unbiased feedback based on previous agreements and their executions.

Katie McCorkle, PhD in Family and Child Psychology, founder member of Balanced Heart Healing Center states that, “Adolescence is a reflection of all the values learnt during the earlier years. Teenage years, irrespective of gender, do not have to be difficult. Independent thinking and decision making imbibed during childhood make the adolescent years a much smoother ride for both children and their parents. Rebelliousness is seen in only about 51% teens who have always been under the wings of their parents.” So it is more about bidirectional respect and consistency in decision making process.

3 Tips for Talking with Your Teenage Daughter

Why is granting independence so crucial during their teenage - An expert’s opinion

Teenage daughter having trouble with mother
Teenage daughter having trouble with mother

Here is a message from Alexa Foster, PhD and also a mother of two young adult boys to all those parents whose daughters have just entered their teenage years:

  1. It is a misconception to wait till your daughter is of “right age” to teach her the independent way of life. In fact, you should start as early as possible. This is a steady process which becomes more assertive over time. It can start as early as elementary school.
  2. It is important that your daughter understands that independence should be earned in return of responsible behavior. For example, she can stay home with reduced supervision if she does not watch TV for more than an hour and goes to bed by 9 and so on.
  3. She can enjoy her independence as long as she learns to keep her family first. She should buy into family values and house rules. For example, even though her friends are hosting a pool party she should rather go to a family dinner.
  4. They should get a slice of the real world. For example, it is perfectly alright for her to get the new iPhone as long as she can work the summer or weekends and pay for at least a percentage of it.

Allowing a certain amount of independence does not mean spoiling your child. It readies them to face the real world with maturity and confidence.


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 23 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very good pointers on teaching teenagers the nitty gritty of life. I especially like the section entitled "Raising an independent . . . . young adult." Wise counsel.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 23 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Teenagers can be scary and challenging, but they can also be fun and friendly. It is our job as parents to prepare them for these years while they are still young. I like how you emphasized teaching them independence before they become teenagers when they are able to show themselves to be responsible. Making wise choices starts when children are toddlers!