It’s 2021, and parenting looks different than it has before. Over the past year, there have been countless changes that teens have had to face and parents have had to navigate through. Events were canceled, school was online for many teenagers, and more time was spent at home as a family.
With all of the changes throughout the past year, there have also been changes to how families function as a unit. One phenomenon that has become prevalent shows that some teens are not being held accountable for their actions. Rather, they are being accommodated by their parents.
This flips the hierarchy upside down, allowing the teen to be on top while the parents are below them. When a teen is consistently being accommodated rather than being held accountable, they lose out on important life lessons about actions and consequences. This also fosters an unhealthy parent-teen relationship because it creates an imbalance.
As this is becoming more common, parents should be aware of what’s going on and how they can keep their kids accountable instead of accommodated. Here are some action items to regain that balance and maintain a healthy parent-teen relationship.
1. Get on the Same Page as Your Co-Parent
As you’ve probably experienced before, your teen will go to another source if they don’t like the answer they get the first time. Meaning, if one parent says “no,” they’ll go to the other parent hoping for a “yes.”
When parents are not on the same page, this can create an unhealthy dynamic. The teen will tend to favor the parent who gives them the answers they like more often, and the other parent will be seen as the “bad guy.” The teen will then punish the parent who is trying to hold them accountable, and the parent ultimately decides that it isn’t worth the fight.
When you and your co-parent are on the same page, your parenting will be much easier and more effective and your teen will benefit from being held accountable.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency is the key to success for almost anything, and this is even more true when it comes to raising teenagers. When you set a boundary, stick to it. When they break a rule, follow through with the consequences and hold them accountable. If you see something they could improve on, provide constructive feedback. They might be upset for a while, but it will serve them well and they’ll be more likely to make progress.
Inconsistencies will only hinder your teen’s progress and success, so as difficult as it is, holding them accountable and sticking to your boundaries will be beneficial overall.
3. Offer Reasoning for Rules and Boundaries
When teenagers know the reasoning behind a rule, boundary, chore, or action, they are more likely to do what the parent says because they can see the long-term benefit. It won’t work every time, but saying “Because I said so!” is a quick and easy way to get into a power struggle.
When you demand blind obedience from your teen, they are more likely to break a rule or cross a boundary because they don’t understand why it’s so important. Their brains are still developing, and it’s important to help them make connections between actions and consequences so they can carry that knowledge into the future.
4. Build Trust
Holding your teen accountable doesn’t mean that you can’t be their friend or have fun with them. You’re there to parent them, which includes love, protection, and acceptance. Try to do things with your children that will build trust and a positive relationship with them.
As mentioned above, consistency will help build a sense of trust with your teenager. When you’re consistently holding them accountable, they know that they won’t be able to get away with things that cross your boundaries and rules. They trust that you will hold them accountable, and soon, they will start to hold themselves accountable.
When you build trust with your teen, they will feel a sense of safety and comfort that will allow them to grow and progress.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is create a culture in your home of trust and one that helps your teen develop resilience, strength, and connections to their behaviors and outcomes. Doing so will set them up for success as they progress into adulthood.
You can hear more about this topic on our podcast episode “From Accommodation to Accountability” on the Not by Chance Podcast found on Apple Podcast and Spotify.