The unique and ever so challenging population of teenagers has desired independence for generations.

The freedom from outside control or support (Merriam-Webster, 2023) is an intimidating thought for any parent raising teens today. I like to think of independence as a process; one that is carefully nurtured from birth. From the time a child is born, believe it or not, our sole responsibility as a parent is to provide a safe and loving environment which instills emotional and physical growth within our tiny human.
We actually begin by letting go, piece by piece, step by step, in hopes of our child one day being a caring and responsible human being, who has the desire to give back to this world. Quite a job description!
So, how do we get from point A to Z you may be contemplating?  Parenting is beautiful, it’s complicated, and messy; not what you expect or plan for.  There will be ups and downs, mistakes, and lessons learned along the way.  All the while, we are providing more and more opportunities for our teen to become self- sufficient.
Teenagers want to be trusted, they beg and plead for this. “Trust me!”  How many times have I heard this as a parent?  Too many to count!  I recall conversations with my teenagers where I would explain there are certain things I can trust you with now, and there will be more things I can trust you with later.  I am by no means saying this was music to their ears, but finding areas where we as parents can say “yes” helps the “no’s” seem less restrictive.
So, let’s take technology as an example- that’s a big one, right?  I propose including your teenager while creating limits for your household.  Don’t worry, it’s not too late to start now I promise. We are fielding the world of technology as it comes, and even as adults it is a challenge!
You may be thinking, “Why would I include my teenager when I am the one setting the rules?”. Good question!  Allowing teenagers to have ownership within limit setting promotes responsibility and autonomy.  Put the responsibility on them by saying, “We are going to be making some new house rules for technology and I would really value your input”. 
So now, you have them thinking and wondering, “What in the world is going on with my parents?  They want to ask my opinion and my opinion might matter.”  Of course, expect the response, “I don’t need limits,” “I know how to set my screen time,” etc.”.  And yes, it is important to set your own limits and we want to keep the conversation going; however, as parents we have to walk the fine line of making the final decision and sticking to it whether they like it or not.
Once my third child was a teenager and in middle school, technology had drastically changed, and I realized the only way to protect him “after hours”, so to speak, was to remove all technology and have the plug in at the kitchen counter.  Initially, this did not go over so well and there was some arguing and some tears.  I gave a fair warning- meaning, the week before school starts or starting a week from now, the new limits will be in place.  I discussed how as his parent; it was my job to keep him safe and ensure a restful night’s sleep.
In the beginning, it was stressful to have to revisit the “Why,” and “my friends’ parents don’t do this”.  Hold your ground and be confident in your parenting ability.  Weekend nights might look different but on school nights- phone and computer in kitchen by 10:30. These limits seemed to work for us, and at times exceptions were made, like for late night sports games or a project that was due.  By the time my son was a junior in high school, I stopped removing the technology and would monitor his bedtime routine.
Is this recipe for every teenager or family?  No. Consider other factors such as your child’s homework load, their grades, do they have a boyfriend or girlfriend?  Find what works for you and your teen!
Removing technology from tweens/teens on school nights fosters their own ability to later set healthy limits for themselves. My son, is now almost 20 and I asked him the other day this very question, “Do you feel that me taking your phone and computer away at night when you were younger has helped you later in setting limits?” I anticipated him responding with, “No it did nothing” or “Why do you want to know?” Surprisingly, he responded “Yes, absolutely”.
He went on to explain how the early technology limits evolved his thought process around technology, more specifically his phone. He went on to say, “It is difficult for younger people, even my age, to get off the phone in social settings”.  Shocking right?  By my third child, I suppose I had done at least one thing right!
So, independence – yes, they want it and will take it whenever it is granted. Parents, I encourage you to tread these waters with a loving confidence while allowing more chances for your child to prove their blooming independence!