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Empowering Teens - Why my Preference

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

The premise of giving teens power can give parents pause - and cause more than a few to ask the question "why would we?" Acknowledging that traveling the path of teen empowerment in real time is an art and includes risk, but in the long term yields a self-confident and self-sufficient young adult.

I view empowerment as the ideal intermediary between helicopter parenting and free-range parenting. Obviously the helicopter style is considered "over-parenting" and clearly does not empower, but seeks to completely control, with the consequence of not enabling independence or fostering accountability of the eventual young adult. Conversely, the free-range style abdicates the parental role of developing inexperienced children into knowledgeable and fully equipped future adults.

I prefer empowerment, and my approach was to set a foundation in the critical shaping years then deliberately empower my teenage daughters in various aspects of life that I knew (from years of experience as an adult) they would need to deal with. I believe empowerment is a two-way term. First, we as parents must be willing to give some of our power to our teens. This can be difficult as in many respects because the teens have not really earned such power. Second, after given (or offered), the recipient must assume the responsibility that accompanies the power transferred. This "dance" of give and take in implementation is not quite black and white. In part, we as parents must both hold our teens accountable while at the same time teach and encourage them how to own (and not abuse) that power.

In my house, to do "the dance" we had to foster independence, personal accountability and responsibility. This was a tailored process where particular decisions or actions throughout our girls development had the onus transferred from us as parents to them as children.

The details of how we actually went about "living this out" will be covered in later posts.

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