Raising a Child Isn't the Same as Raising a Teenager

Being a parent of a teenager isn't the same as being a parent of a child. Knowing and understanding a teenager's needs allows parents to continue helping them at this new stage in their life.
Raising a Child Isn't the Same as Raising a Teenager

Last update: 19 July, 2021

Fortunately, parents nowadays tend to be interested in adopting a positive and respectful educational style at home. They consult experts and often manage to achieve terrific results by way of happy, healthy children and familial harmony. However, there are differences between raising a child and a teenager. In fact, by puberty, many of the old routines might no longer work.

When this happens, parents might feel confused and frustrated. They ask themselves what they’ve done wrong to make everything change. Why does their child no longer obey them? Why are they so rebellious and distant?

In most cases, the parents haven’t done anything wrong. It’s simply that their children have changed. Nevertheless, it’s often difficult for parents to accept the transition from childhood to adolescence.

It’s important to know the difference between raising a child and a teenager

Many parents conclude that they’d prefer for their children not to grow up at all. They enjoy their company and love their innocence. At the same time, they worry that growing up and having to face new challenges will only cause them suffering, whereas they’re able to protect them as children.

However, puberty inevitably arrives. At this time, it’s important for children to know they’re able to grow and change but still be accepted by their parents. Furthermore, that their parents are by their side every step of the way. In this article, we’ll talk about the main challenges parents face at this time. Furthermore, how they can modify their educational style to fit the family’s new requirements.

The main differences between a child and a teen

A mother educating her child.

Attention versus privacy

This is one of the first aspects that parents of teenagers find they need to change. During childhood, children need, demand, and enjoy the presence and attention of their parents. This enriches them cognitively and emotionally and allows them to develop in a healthy way. Interestingly, some parents actually become rather overwhelmed with their young children’s demands.

However, during adolescence, teenagers both require and demand privacy. They find the company of their parents intrusive. In fact, every moment they spend away from their parents reinforces their independence.

Supervision versus independence

Parents often find that the educational patterns they resorted to during childhood no longer work with teenagers. This is completely natural.

Children need supervision and guidance. They want their parents to provide a framework for action, guidelines, and boundaries. On the contrary, during adolescence, teenagers need to be able to develop their independence. Of course, limits are still required, but they must be more lenient.

When children are young, parents might do homework with them or make them take a bath at a certain time. However, during adolescence, young people need to make their own rules to a certain extent. For example, they should be responsible for their own homework and personal hygiene.

During this stage, parents finally start to reap the rewards of teaching their young children to eventually become independent. As such, trying to impose the same control on teens is both ineffective and counterproductive.

Family versus friends

During childhood, the family provides the child’s socializing framework. In fact, parents act as their form of reference. This allows them to develop their perspective of both the world and themselves. When puberty arrives, the teenager’s peer group assumes that role and the family becomes pushed into the background. This is a natural and positive transition that not all parents welcome.

A young person must be allowed to socialize and spend more time with their friends. Parents should try not to take it personally. Neither should they try to make their child feel guilty for wanting to go to the movies with friends rather than spend time with their family. These actions merely disrupt this necessary stage in their development.

Three teenagers.

Some similarities between raising a child and a teenager

Although it’s usually a progressive transition, these changes can make parents feel like they’re losing control. Furthermore, they might feel that everything they’ve learned so far about parenting has been called into question. However, in reality, they only need to make a few adjustments.

Their child still needs love and unconditional acceptance. They still require boundaries and guidance. Indeed, they benefit greatly from an emotionally close relationship with their parents. Parents just need to remember that the child they’ve raised is still there; they’re just evolving. For this reason, instead of being afraid of these changes, they should feel proud that they’re able to accompany their child for the next step on their journey toward adulthood.

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  • Molinero, L. R. (2007). El adolescente y su entorno: familia, amigos, escuela y medios. Revista española de pediatría: clínica e investigación63(1), 29-37.
  • Vallet, M. (2006). Cómo educar a nuestros adolescentes: un esfuerzo que merece la pena. WK Educación.