Common Mistakes Parents Make when Parenting Teens – Get into power struggles

Mistake – Parents get into a power struggle with the teen – This is where the teen and you are determined that your point of view is the right one and each is not willing to ‘give in.’ You aren’t able to find a compromise

Solution:  First realize that power struggles do not work – especially with a strong-willed child.  No one ‘wins.’  I learned this when I took a parenting class when my children were preschoolers.   After our kids were in college I met a neighbor who had been in the class.  I talked about what a good lesson that was.  She said she wished her husband had learned it. He had been in the class.

What I did was give my kids two choices that I would find acceptable.  Do you want to go out for pizza or stay home and have spaghetti?  Do you want to clean your room now or wait until Saturday?  The only time I can remember getting in a power struggle was when my daughter was a senior in high school.  I wanted her to go to the mountains with us and she did not want to go.  We argued about it all week.  When it came time to load the car, she picked up her suitcase, got in her car, and said I am going to Michelle’s house for the weekend.  I had always felt that if I had tried to control her by getting in power struggles, she would have been a runaway.  It is important to pick your battles.  This was not an important battle for me to fight so I let her spend the weekend with her friend.  She is now in her 30s and I recently talked to her about it.  She doesn’t even remember it – probably because I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Have you had power struggle issues with your kids?  What did you find helped?


  1. I remember when I was 14 and I was freshly new to this foster family, I already had 3 other foster families values bestowed in my head, and now I had another family telling me this was the right way. I finally snapped and I was running away on a regular basis. finally leaving for good. most of the time before I just drank to forget about all the turmoil.

    • What an experience! How are you dealing with it today? Are you still living in the past or have you figured out the lesson those experiences taught you. There is a lesson to every troubling experience. Have you figured out your purpose? I know many people who have lived very troubled lives and then moved on to help people who are going through similar situations.

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