My teen is questioning our family values

Communication and Discipline   ›   My teen is questioning our family values

Adolescence is a time when parents may feel like their children are drifting away from the family, or even rejecting family values. There are many reasons behind these behaviours, and it’s important not to jump to conclusions.

Adolescence is an important developmental stage where the shaping of a young person’s identity takes centre stage. Teens can experience strain between their need for independence and their need to fit in.


For example, some teens will refuse to take part in family activities that they used to enjoy (visiting family, going on a bike ride, holidays, etc.) and would rather spend time with friends.


During this time, a parent can feel like their teen is not valuing family, even rejecting it, which could be the most important value to that parent; and this can lead the parent to think that they have failed in their role to instill values. But is this really the case?


Don’t worry, just because your teen seems to be rejecting a value now, it doesn’t mean that the rejection is definitive or going to be lifelong.


Even though teens want to conform to certain societal values, they are primarily trying to establish and create their own identity. They achieve this by rejecting some of their parents’ values. Remember that we develop our identity by sorting through the values that have been imparted on us by family, school, friends, society, etc.


How to Position Yourself when your Teen Rejects Family Values

As a parent you can choose to:


  • Oppose your teen’s new priorities with all the frustrations and confrontation that will come from it.
  • Let it go; let your teen make their own choices and not invest any energy into the issue.
  • Respect you and your teen’s values by way of compromise; “it’s okay if you don’t come on bike rides with us anymore, but I want you to be at dinner every Sunday”, or, “I want you to come on vacation with us, that’s why I’m allowing you to bring a friend.”


In this period of change parents face quite a challenge: create a space where their teen feels like they’re becoming independent while their values are being respected…hang in there!