Teens lie no matter whether you’re strict or not. Darling did a study on teens showing that parents believe that being more lax and rules would institute teens to tell them more about their lives but the opposite happens. Not instituting rules makes the teens feel that you don’t care about them and they go even more crazy in their teenager lives which involves girl/boyfriends, sex, drugs, etc. Those parents that do put rules in don’t actually enforce them because it takes too much energy enforcing rules. It’s easier setting rules rather than enforcing them. Parents think if they’re too strict, teens would get pushed into rebellion but that’s really a myth. The study shows that doesn’t happen. Teens just avoided being rebellious and snuck behind their parents backs.
In a teen’s mind, asking a parent for help means they don’t have the maturity to govern themselves and that’s what they avoid. This type of feeling starts right before 12 and grows stronger and and most power at 18. However, the objection to parental authority is said to peak at age 14/15.
Those parents that were oppressive to the teens actually didn’t get teens that rebelled but instead got teens who were obedient and depressed. Those parents that did “enforce” their rules were those that were the most caring for their kids. They explain why they set those rules and out of those rules, the teens had their freedom on other stuff. The kids of these “strict” parents lied the least and hid the least amount of secrets from their parents.
Other studies show that teens turned to drinking and drugs because they had too much free time and they were bored. Boredom usually sets in around 7th grade and lasts through high school. They studied why kids were bored. Many were doing things because their parents wanted them to and not because they were interested themselves in doing the activities. Due to the fact that the parents filled in their schedules, they lacked the ability to think about what they really wanted to do and fill in their own schedules. In other words, your teen lacked the ability to plan their own schedule because you keep filling it up yourself!
They also found out that it was hard for teens not to be bored because the studies show that teen brains can’t get pleasure doing things that are only a little rewarding. They only got excited with “large” rewards.
Arguing with teens is actually a good thing. In studies, we’d expect Asian kids to argue less with their parents but that isn’t the case. They actually argued more but with these kids, they are more likely to abide by the rules. As with American families, the kids said whatever made their parents happy and they ended up doing what they want. It’s weird but fighting and arguing were actually a sign of respect. Many parents feel stressed arguing with their children not knowing they’re actually benefiting their teen so next time you’re fighting with you 12-13 year old, know that you’re actually communicating on a respectful level and that they actually care about what you think and they actually want you to agree and they’re more prone to listen to your rules. Teens don’t feel fights are destructive while the parents thought they were. We should all get rid of the idea thinking that arguing with your teen is hurting your relationship since on their end, they don’t feel the same way. Of course I’m not talking about huge fights where it becomes abusive but healthy fights and arguments are viewed as communication to the teen.
So if the most obedient teens are those with parents who enforce the rules, should you be super strict on enforcing? Studies show that if you’re too strict, it only makes the teen find a way to go around the rules. So what is enforcing with rule bending? For example, if you set a rule to come home before a certain time and your teen says that today it’s a special program at school or someone’s birthday, a good way of dealing with the situation is let your teen go to the event and say come home later by 2 hours then but this is an EXCEPTION that I’m giving permission. This gives the teen a reason not to lie when they feel that they can reason with you as long as it makes sense.
After reading about teens and toddlers, it makes me wonder we should just accept lying as common part of nature as eating and sleeping. It’s a natural part of human beings and while it’s viewed in a negative manner, it’s in fact a part of life. It’s something we have to deal with just like our diets or nutrition but yet we don’t view them as a secret to share. I don’t think we’ll ever change our children to be 100% truthful but knowing how they think or perceive the world is an important aspect parents cannot ignore. We frequently say the wrong things to push them into opposite directions of where we’d like them to be. Let’s work hard together to change ourselves for the sake our children’s brighter futures.