The myth of the "rebellious teenager" is ubiquitous in western culture. So ubiquitous that my mom and dad were convinced I was defying their abstinence-only sex ed in random boys' backseats and smoking pot — though I wasn't. Even if I had wanted to, their uber-strict ways wouldn't have given me the opportunity, neither physically nor emotionally. What was that about backseats? Nope, I'd have pictured my dad's prying eye pop up right outside the window, and I'd have opted right out.
There's no doubt that the teenage years induce a very natural urge to explore your own identity, your own path, quite apart from your parents'. In not-that-many-years, you'll have to make your own way through life, providing for yourself and making your own decisions, after all.
Why are some parents so very strict? I can think of two reasons. One is a cultural or ideological adherence to a particular set of beliefs that causes them to think this strictness is necessary for you to grow into a decent person. The other is more instinctual, and can be summed up in one word — worry. Your parents want you to be safe and sound, and think the ways you perceive as overbearing work toward that goal.
Find Out What You Disagree About
Be respectful — maybe more respectful than you feel like being — but also don't beat around the bush. If your parents have told you to do something you do not want to do, or have forbidden you from doing something you do want to, find out what their reasons and worries are. Find out how your own opinions really differ from your parents'.
Don't say stuff like "you're not being fair!". Say stuff like, "I know you think I shouldn't go to that movie that lasts until 11 pm, and I was wondering if we could discuss that?".
Find Out What You Do Agree On
Say your parents are worried that your free time will get in the way of your education. Surely, you also agree that education is a priority? You want an awesome life tomorrow, after all!
Say your parents are worried you'll get drunk and have sex you don't really want at that party. Discuss that. Explain that it's important to have friends and hang out with them but you'll not do anything stupid.
See what I mean? Even in your disagreement, there's things you can agree on. Take it a step further, and your parents may agree that you are growing into a responsible, fine young specimen who can be trusted. You're now laying important foundations.
Compromise: Maybe You Can Both Be Happy
So, both you and your parents want you to be safe and happy. Good! See how you can make that work to your advantage. Explain why what you want to do or not do is important to you, and why that doesn't mean you're a lost cause. Ask your parents to explain what you could do to ease their fears. Make a plan. Compromise. In the process, make it clear that a good relationship with your parents is important to you, and that you are willing to listen to them — you're just hoping that it can be a two-way street. The more you're willing to try to understand their point of view, the more open your parents will likely be to working with you.
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