Editor’s pick: The role of control vs collaboration in teens’ future relationships

Free images com - Gabriella FabbriTrust, mutual respect and collaboration are the foundation of a strong relationship, whether the relationship is between spouses, friends, or parent and child.

For a child, the relationship with his or her parents is the first — and most significant — relationship. Parental example has considerable impact on kids, and through our relationship with our child, we model how to engage in relationships.

The Attachment Parenting approach promotes mutual respect and collaboration between the parent and the child, rather than a power struggle, which may lead to different forms of control or manipulation by the parent.

It is important to clarify that Attachment Parenting does not identify with the permissive parenting style where parental boundaries and limits are lacking — nor is Attachment Parenting the same as “helicopter parenting” where the parent is overbearing and demanding, allowing minimal freedom for the child.

This week’s featured article is from Reuters, reporting on a study conducted at the University of Virginia that investigated the negative effects on future relationships of teenagers with controlling parents. The study concluded that teens with controlling parents have difficulties handling disagreements as they get older.

“In this study, we examined psychological control on a continuum, and found that the more psychological control parents exerted, the more difficulties teens had establishing a sense of independence and closeness during a disagreement with close friends or romantic partners,” psychologist Barbara Oudekerk told Reuters:

The Scientific American referenced the same study and mentioned that “separate findings suggest that parents who explain the reasons behind their rules and turn disagreements into conversations leave youngsters better prepared for future disputes.”

When we explain to our kids why we reach our decisions and get them involved in the decision making process, they grow to understand that there is reasoning behind our decisions.  Mommy or daddy didn’t say “no” because they are the authority figure and the child simply needs to comply — as in “because I’m the boss” or “because I said so!”

When the parent-child relationship is built on collaboration rather than control — as in the case of Attachment Parenting — kids will learn to be cooperative because they know there is a reason behind the parent’s decisions. They will develop their own reasoning, critical and independent thinking as it was cultivated and modeled by the parent.

The child may or may not like or accept our decisions. The goal is not to please the child, but rather that the way we set boundaries serves as building blocks for a relationship that is built on trust and respect. Furthermore, we teach our kids how to navigate through disagreements and reach conflict resolution.


**Photo source: FreeImages.com/Gabriella Fabbri