Are You Micromanaging Your Teen?


Do you find yourself micromanaging your teenager’s life? It goes something like this: “Did you take a shower?” “Did you study for your Spanish test?” “Have you figured out whether you’re going to the concert this weekend?” “Do I have to get the concert tickets for you?” “Shouldn’t you have left by now?”

When you have a deadline at work, who is responsible for meeting that deadline? When you have a meeting you need to attend, who is responsible for getting you to that meeting? How did you learn how to meet your deadlines and get to your meetings on time?


It is no different for our teenagers. If they don’t have a reminder to take a shower, they will get stinky and their friends will make fun of them. When that happens, chances are they won’t forget (or neglect out of spite) to take a shower again.

If your teenager doesn’t make the necessary phone calls she needs to make to see if everyone’s going to the concert over the weekend, she’ll probably end up sitting home bored to death while all of her friends are out having fun. Chances are, next time her friends start discussing an upcoming concert, she’ll be on top of the planning.


As Wendy Sheppard points out, a teenager’s job is to learn how to be independent – how to do things for himself. His job is to find the resources to figure things out if he can’t do it himself.

Our job is to support him through this process and help him with things he truly isn’t ready for.

Therefore, instead of hovering like a helicopter over your teen, try ‘submarine parenting’. As Todd Kestin explains, submarine parenting means staying out of sight under the surface letting the kids manage their lives as things come up. It’s keeping the proverbial periscope up, so parents are aware how things are going with their teens, how their decisions are turning out, and being available to step in as needed. By maintaining this stance in their teens’ lives, parents empower them to work their way out of problems, issues, decision-making, etc.

Make a periscopeFrom

Submarine parents practice “parenting with intention.” Purposely backing off but keeping a hidden eye on their kids’ progress. Purposely giving them the room they need to succeed and to fail and bounce back again.

So what are some ways to use “submarine parenting” with your own kids? Here are five ways to take action with your teen by parenting with intention:

1. Back off on purpose.

2. Let your teen make his own decisions.

3. Talk to your teen with respect,

4. Model healthy behavior for your teen to follow.

5. Let go of the power struggle.

 Be More Independent As a Teen Girl Step 1.jpgFrom

Lippincott and Deutsch, authors of 7 Things Your Teenager Won’t Tell You, urge parents to simplify their expectations into three “rules of play:”

1. Stay Safe
2. Show Respect
3. Keep in Touch

What happens in a teen’s life – from violating curfew to doing homework to confronting drugs and alcohol – can fall under the above-mentioned three “rules of play.


As Mike Duran points out, “Teenagers / Young Adults require CONSULTATION and ADVICE – This is the stage where our kids are (or should be) full-fledged managers of their own lives. By now, they should understand moral parameters and societal obligations. We respect their growing independence by posturing ourselves as consultants and advisers, not managers. As such, they are free to take or leave our advice. (Of course, this does not let them off the hook regarding behavior or responsibility, but it affirms their autonomy and our waning authority.)”


And if you still find yourself micromanaging your teen, lighten up and get your own life 😉




15 thoughts on “Are You Micromanaging Your Teen?

  1. viewpacific says:

    Good reminders. Many adults don’t do well with micromanaging, too .

    • Otrazhenie says:

      I would not be surprised if these were the same adults who later complain about their teenagers being ‘unmanageble’ and ‘unruly’. I do have a tendency of drifting back into ‘helicopter’ parenting from time to time because I still have pre-teen children and that’s where I get the strongest push back from my teens. They do not want to be bossied around – they want to be given their own ‘space’ and treated with respect and understanding.

  2. Ginz says:

    I think you make some really valid points in here. Parenting teens is a time, isn’t it, when the sliding scale starts shifting towards them being fully autonomous reflective and responsible adults.and if they are allowed to develop as such, with firm values and standards being set before then when they are smaller, the teenage years can well be the best years you will have had as a parent with your offspring. This is the focus of the RESET programme too – parenting with love, respect and responsibility.

  3. Mélanie says:

    Hi Miss O! your post has reminded me of a PTA meeting whose title was:”HELP, I’ve got a teenager in my house!” 🙂 I’m sooo happy that my 2 “old babies”(LOL!) have been responsible, independent, autonomous adults for a while… I simply can’t imagine having teenagers nowadays! 🙂 Good luck, courage, patience and my very best to all teengers’ parents! 🙂 btw, being a parent is a full time job… 🙂

    • Otrazhenie says:

      It looks like you’ve done a very good parenting job with your teenagers. Well done!!! I’ve got almost 2 teenagers now and they are both really good. No problems yet, though they both are at the beginning of their teenage journey yet. Hope to be able to retain good relationship with them through all the teenage years. 🙂

  4. satzie says:

    Great share Otrazhenie.

    I like the submarine analogy used.
    Among those good 5 points, I admire the third and fourth the most.

    When I was appearing as irresponsible & dependable; my parents, few friends backed off during my hard times. I knew that it was intended to help me, but it appeared heartless to me. Backing off in some situations could be an indirect control.
    So, I think “Back off on purpose” – could be reframed to “giving enough space/freedom”.

    I like Wendy Sheppard’s points. And I think her point could be seen from another view as well like “a parent’s job is to teach how to be independent & responsible – how to do things for oneself. Their job is to give the resources & help to figure things out if kids can’t do it themselves.”

  5. PookyH says:

    great advice. I need to bookmark this and come back in a decade!

  6. Another great read! I have a 19 year old and I literally want to rip out my hair sometimes! I’m happy to have read this

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Glad that this post made you a bit happier. 🙂 My teens are a bit younger. I won’t be surprised if I have no hair left at all by the time the reach 19 😉 Though I’m sure there will also be lots of things we’ll laugh about later, especially once my teens grow up and will be parenting their own teens. 😉

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