by Shadra Bruce

When you’re riding in the car, have you ever had the seat belt tighten against you? What’s the first thing you do when you feel it tighten but there’s no actual danger around? You try to loosen it up, right? I know for myself, the minute that seat belt feels tight against my body, I want to get out of it. It’s all I can feel, and all I can think about.

If you can understand that feeling, you can understand exactly how a teenager feels. Parents are like seat belts – they’re ok as long as they’re just loosely buckled and there in case of emergency, but the minute they tighten their grip, it’s a problem. Teens want loose from that tightness. Now. No matter what.

Even if it means unbuckling.

When you loosen up and let your teens have a little control over their own lives, you communicate that you have confidence in them to make decisions and choices for themselves.

Are they going to screw up? Yep. Are they going to get hurt? Sometimes. But you know what? They’ll learn a lot more from making a few mistakes along the way while we’re still there to help them pick up the pieces than they will if we keep a tight grip and never let them experience anything at all.

No matter how much we want to protect our teens from the big bad world, we have to keep the seatbelt loose. Keep it buckled, but give them room to move around, lean forward, and do some exploring on their own.