Freedom. Our country was founded on this value. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom to lie to your parents. Wait, what? Yes, we value freedom, but in our research with teens we discovered that it is far more than just a “value.” At this stage of their lives, it is the value. In fact, it is so motivating, so powerful, that to many teens it becomes like a drug – one that they are even willing to lie to their parents to keep.
When I was researching For Parents Only I had an illuminating conversation with adolescent psychotherapist Dr. Julie Carberry that explained so much of what I was hearing in my focus groups with teenagers. She said, “Freedom is cocaine to a teenager. It’s intoxicating. It’s addictive. And it is often their biggest motivator.”How big? Three out of four of teens in my nationally-representative survey said they were intensely focused on being able to do what they wanted to do (which is essentially their definition of freedom). So much so that even most teens who loved and had good relationships with their parents would do whatever it took (including deceive their parents) to avoid losing that precious freedom.
While this truth may sound frightening, the research also revealed three steps that will help you nip those deceptions in the bud, so your teen can start living in the sort of healthy freedom that you as a parent can also enjoy!