Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Adolescence (12–18)

How does a child’s relationship with parents change during adolescence?

Adolescence is a time of radical transformation of the parent-child relationship. Both parent and child must find a way to renegotiate the relationship so that the child’s growing independence is not stifled, but the child is not allowed too much freedom. Although the stereotype of battling parents and teens is exaggerated and most adolescents have reasonably harmonious relationships with their parents, there is clearly an increase in conflict between children and parents when children reach their teens. Parents and adolescents conflict over the teen’s desire for greater privacy, for reduced discipline, for greater freedom to choose friends and to spend time with them away from home. Adolescents fare best when their parents can loosen the reins but not let go entirely. Moreover, the adolescent’s increased logical abilities allow for reasoned discussions between parents and children about what should and should not be allowed.


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