Parenting Adolescents: Structure, Limits and Flowing With The Changing Tide of The Parent Child Relationship


Sometimes a metaphor can serve as a powerful way to illustrate an idea.

In video 3 of my 8-part discussion with teen therapist, Amy Frisch, she compares parenting to the beach’s shoreline and how it shifts and changes, and how parents of teenagers need to shift and change like the ocean as their teens mature.

The importance of setting limits

We know that a parent’s job is to set clear limits, and it’s a teenager’s job to push up against these limits. Amy gives some good advice for how parents can navigate that dance as gracefully as possible.

“When you really know your child and have a strong connection, every disagreement does not have to be World War 3, but there do need to be consequences when teens do not follow the rules.” – Amy Frisch Click To Tweet

Boundaries are necessary because teenagers don’t always make the smartest decisions, and we want to keep them safe. But how do you know where to draw the line with your teen?

My friend’s three boys

I have a friend who is about 67 and one of the smartest people I know. She has three sons. She told me once that when her boys were teenagers, she wanted to let them make all their own decisions and learn to trust their judgments.

She quickly realized that her boys had the “world’s worst judgment,” or that maybe she was naive in her expectations about her teenagers’ cognitive capabilities and that it was necessary for her to carefully watch them and to help her boys make wiser decisions, (particularly ones where they could get hurt).

The changing tide

All the parents I know want their children to be safe and happy. As kids enter their teenage years, we know their decisions around things like sex, drugs, and even schoolwork can have serious consequences.

Parents can’t control everything their teenagers do (nor should they try), but we need to stay involved, pay close attention, communicate as much as we can, figure out when to pull back and when to step in, and always keep a close eye on the ocean tide, so it doesn’t catch us off guard.  

“Consciously Parenting Teens” Video Series

If you haven’t watched the video above, I encourage you to check it out. Amy has a remarkable way of speaking and framing parent/ child dynamics. There is a signup form at the end of the video, but in case you missed it, here it is again.

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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.