Managing Conflict With Your Teen

I want you to take a moment to recall your teenage years. Were they generally positive? Negative? Somewhere in between?

One view of adolescence, originally coined by G. Stanley Hall, is Storm and Stress. According to the theory, adolescence is characterized by:

  • Increased mood disruptions
  • Increased involvement in risky behavior
  • Increased conflict with parents

Although these components of storm and stress do not generalize to all teenagers, most parents may recognize degrees of each in their teenagers.

One reason that parents experience more conflict with their teens during this period is due to an adolescent’s growing need for independence, and parents pacing the amount of appropriate autonomy.

What do you and your teen argue about? Curfew? Clothes? Where and who they spend their time with?

The common denominator here is independence. Conflict emerges when adolescents want more autonomy than age-appropriate, and you as a parent must set limits.

Parents need to set limits, but allow teenagers autonomy within these limits. Allowing a teen to practice independent decision-making within a set of rules or guidelines will keep them on track to becoming a mature, self-reliant adult.

The Case for Only Children

In the past, only children have received a bad wrap, and are usually an anomaly to the 2.3 children-per-household convention. In the midst of the recession, a new emerging trend suggests that only children are on the rise, and the benefits of having an only are outweighing the drawbacks. Given the recent change in trends, it’s time to debunk some of the myths regarding only children.

As discussed in Time Magazine, there are several false, yet persistent myths perpetuated about only children:

  • Only children are socially awkward: Research shows that only children tend to spend more time with adults; therefore, they are likely to learn social skills that exceed their level of maturity. Also, with the advent of the”play date” the parent’s of only children have plenty of opportunity to coordinate experiences to foster social skills.
  • Only children are maladjusted. The evidence is unable to distinguish between only children and multi-children families; however, research suggests that a marriage will be strained with the addition of a second child. Typically, a couple has their first child to enhance the relationship, and a second child to enhance the first child’s upbringing.

Across cultures it is assumed that being an only child is a burden to bear. In our current economic climate, it costs close to $300,000 to raise a child. If financial incentive isn’t enough, here are some additional advantages of having one child:

  • Higher scores of intelligence and achievement. Parents have more energy and time to invest in one child versus two or three. We are likely to see higher expectations for academic performance when parents are able to invest themselves in their child’s schooling.
  • An only child doesn’t have to “compete” for resources. With several children, resources including parent’s money, time, and energy are divided amongst children. Some parents are opting for a one-child household in order to give that child undivided attention and opportunity.

As you consider to what extent you want to grow your family, consider not only the financial incentives for an only, but the implications for the well-being of the parent’s relationship as well.