It’s time to let go of your young adults. Image: Pexels/ PNW Production.

Parenting: My parents won’t let me grow up!

Overbearing parenting backfiring? Discover how to foster teen independence and build a stronger relationship.


It’s time to let go of your young adults. Image: Pexels/ PNW Production.

Many young adults experience tension around even the most well-meaning parents. This friction often stems from a parental desire to control rather than offer guidance and support. As children mature, it’s essential for parents to recognize their evolving needs and foster their independence.

When to Shift from Parenting to Partnership

While there’s no single “right” age, the late teens (17-18) are often a pivotal time for change in the parent-child relationship. During this early adolescence, teens crave more freedom to discover their own paths and take measured risks.

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Authoritative parenting may have been necessary when children were younger, but this approach can stifle growth in this stage of development. Shifting toward a more collaborative style respects your child’s increasing maturity.

Teenage Independence: Why it Matters

Teenagers often possess the necessary skills for basic decision-making. Their developing brains are undergoing changes that drive them toward independence, exploration, and deeper relationships beyond the family unit. This desire for independence is a healthy and natural part of development.

The Risks of Overbearing Parenting

“Helicopter parenting”, a style marked by over-involvement and a desire to control every outcome, can have unintended negative consequences. Such control denies teens valuable learning opportunities and can lead to feelings of resentment toward parents.

“Giving up control can be difficult for parents,” notes author Jane Isay. However, she urges parents to “keep their mouth shut and their door open” to foster a stronger adult relationship with their children.

Fostering Independence: From Control to Guidance

Research suggests that overly controlling, threatening language can damage teens’ long-term mental health. At this crucial juncture, parents can:

  • Offer support, not solutions: Let your teen tackle problems independently, offering help only if requested.
  • Respect individuality: Understand that their choices might differ from yours.
  • Embrace mistakes as learning opportunities: Frame setbacks as lessons for growth, not failure

Recognizing Your Evolving Role

As your child approaches adulthood, your role as a parent shifts to that of a trusted advisor and support system. Respect their newfound independence, provide encouragement, and remain a steadfast source of unconditional love as they navigate their life path.