Why Parents Need to Be Supportive Allies (not friends) to Their Teens and Why This is So Important


I had the good fortune to work with Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center, for many years at teen camp before she became a mom and a great therapist.

At camp Lauren had a way of being clear and direct with campers and staff that was also kind, patient, and compassionate. She often did that using very few words.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to interview her, Lauren not only has plenty of knowledge, but she also truly “walks her talk.”

In this short video, Lauren gives parents some great advice for remaining calm and firm when setting guidelines and disciplining our children.

'Sometimes parents forget that they can be really fun and loving, but also really firm … You’re not your teenager’s friend, you’re their parent, but you can still have a lot of fun and be loving at the same time.' -Lauren MurielloClick To Tweet

Earning respect by parenting as a leader

Lauren talks about the importance of following through with what you say. We know that to feel safe, teenagers need very clear boundaries. It also helps them to feel loved.

'As a parent, you have to show that you are a strong leader and being a leader means that you have to follow through with what you say you are going to do. That is how your kids are going to respect you.' -Lauren MurielloClick To Tweet

This becomes tricky because the truth is that sometimes consequences for our teens can impact us as well. For instance, maybe you want your kid to go to that party you threatened to take away because it gives YOU a break.

This is why it’s so important to think carefully about the consequences you lay down because if don’t follow through, your child will respect you less, and guess who will be running the show?

Respect works both ways

This is an interesting point for parents to take in. How do we get our kids to respect us? We think that they should just respect us because we are their parents, but it probably does not work that way.

Lauren has an interesting take on fostering respect that seems easy in principle but may be challenging to put into practice.

'When you show your teenager that you actually care and respect their world, they are going to feel bonded with you, and that’s when you can be an effective disciplinarian.' -Lauren MurielloClick To Tweet

This simple advice requires intentional effort to put into practice. This means we need to take the time to become genuinely interested in our teen’s world.

Yes, this could mean that you need to take a sincere interest in some video games or social media that your kids are involved in.

Seems easy enough, but sometimes this can feel like a chore for a busy parent. However, taking this time to show sincere interest in our kids’ inner world is one of the ways we can strengthen the parent-child bond and build trust.

A sustainable way forward

As our children grow up and become teenagers and start to assert more and more independence, I think the best parents become more supportive allies while also remaining the one in charge, setting limits, following through with consequences, and doing all the tough stuff that comes with being the parent of a teenager.

Laurens’s message is clear and to the point, and we may want to watch it a few times and take notes to remind us how we can best be supportive allies to our teenage children.

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt in for the whole series. I think there are some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

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Find out about Odyssey Teen Camp

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Adam Simon, Odyssey Teen Camp Director

Adam Simon

I'm Adam Simon. I started teen camp eighteen years ago with the vision of creating a space where teenagers would know they are safe from bullying or negative judgments and would feel free to show who they really are and to become their best selves. Let's connect, discuss, and engage...
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Find Out About Odyssey Teen Camp

A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18
Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.