I have very strict parents. What do I do as a teenager?
First of all, I see you and you are not alone. Sometimes it can feel like you’re crazy when no one hears you or believes you.
There are some strict parents who are strict out of care and concern. They are overprotective parents. But there are many who practice strict parenting for self-serving reasons. These are authoritarian parents.
Despite trying many different ways to deal with your parents, you still find yourself fighting with them constantly. You have a difficult time dealing with family relationships.
So what to do when you have strict parents?
If you have extremely harsh parents, here is some practical advice that may ease your life and make things a little more bearable for now.
It is important that you tell a trusted adult if your parent is physically abusive. It may be the other non-abusive parent, your teacher, counselor, doctor, or even the police.
Do not lie. Describe your concerns about safety to them.
If they don’t believe you, tell another adult you trust. Don’t give up until someone takes you seriously.
Don’t count on changing your parents
In most cases, strict parents do not physically abuse their children. They just have strict rules and harsh limits.
Most people suggest that if you have strict parents, you talk to them about your viewpoint, and hope that someday they will change.
But changing others is very difficult1.
Most likely, you’ve tried for years. Similarly, your parents may have tried to change you for years as well. So you know counting on others to change to solve your problem is unrealistic.
Therefore, don’t wait for your parents to change or try to change them.
If you can, try to convince them to attend family therapy with you. Perhaps another adult can convince your parents to change.
Stop fighting with them
Stop fighting with your parents if you have been doing so.
Fighting will not change the way they treat you. As long as neither of you backs down, it will keep escalating2.
As much as you can, do what they ask. It may sound crazy, but right now, you have no choice but to rely on them. So trying to follow their authoritarian rules is good for you.
This won’t last forever.
Eventually, when you are old enough to make your own decisions, more choices will be available to you.
To minimize the pain under authoritarian parenting, stop fighting and comply whenever you can. You are not doing this for them. You are doing this for yourself.
It might seem like a lifetime, but if you follow the advice here, you will get your life back eventually and live happier.
Study hard and get good grades
Having the means to support yourself is the most reliable way to ensure an independent, healthy, and happy future.
Having a good job and doing well at it is a crucial part of it. The surest way to achieve this is to study hard, earn good grades, and go to college3.
College isn’t the only way to achieve success in life, but it’s the most straightforward.
You learn more than just knowledge in college. You learn how to learn. Knowing how to learn and improving yourself continuously will help you succeed in any endeavor.
With good academic performance, you may even be able to alleviate the bad grade issues your strict parents are bothering you with. Again, you’re not doing it for anyone else. It’s for you.
Plan which college you want to attend, what kind of job you want, and how you are going to get there. A solid plan ensures you can take care of yourself when the time comes.
Exercise, sleep well, and eat healthy
Right now, your personal life is tough, but you are preparing for a better future, one that’s healthier mentally and physically.
Exercise regularly, sleep well, and eat healthy foods to stay fit and strong.
Treat yourself well even when others don’t.
Sleeping enough and exercising are also helpful in boosting your mood and preventing depressive symptoms4.
Find support but stay away from bad influence
Being raised by harsh parents can be a lonely experience.
Your friends may not understand why you can’t join them for sleepovers, go out with them, have a normal social life, or do things they take for granted.
If you disclose your problems at home, they may dismiss your feelings or experience. You may hear things from them that make you feel bad about not liking your parents because they love theirs.
It’s not your fault that your parents make life difficult for you, and it’s not their fault that they don’t understand what you are going through. Don’t let that bother you.
One way to get good emotional support is to speak with your school counselor. If you’re offered a chance to see a therapist, take it.
Also, seek out people who can understand and support you, but be cautious of making friends with those who are defiant engaging in delinquency, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse.
A bad friend may understand exactly what you are going through but they may also steer you in the wrong direction5.
They may believe that acting defiantly or breaking the law is retaliation against their parents, but they are only harming themselves and their futures.
Get professional help
If you feel sad or depressed for an extended period of time, or if you feel suicidal, tell your school counselor and parents immediately to receive medical help. Looking after your mental health is not a sign of weakness. It shows that you are a responsible person who knows how to take good care of yourself.
Final thoughts on how to deal with strict parents as a teenager
Simply put, the best way to handle strict parents is to minimize pain and conflicts in day-to-day life, take good care of yourself, and plan for the future.
This stage is only a small part of your entire life. When the time comes, good health and education will allow you to live a better adult life.
You can do it.
- 1.Azar ST, Nix RL, Makin-Byrd KN. PARENTING SCHEMAS AND THE PROCESS OF CHANGE. J Marital Family Therapy. Published online January 2005:45-58. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2005.tb01542.x
- 2.DIAMOND GS, LIDDLE HA. Transforming Negative Parent-Adolescent Interactions: From Impasse to Dialogue. Family Process. Published online March 1999:5-26. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1999.00005.x
- 3.Roth PL, Clarke RL. Meta-Analyzing the Relation between Grades and Salary. Journal of Vocational Behavior. Published online December 1998:386-400. doi:10.1006/jvbe.1997.1621
- 4.Guszkowska M. [Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood]. Psychiatr Pol. 2004;38(4):611-620. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15518309
- 5.Vitaro F, Brendgen M, Tremblay RE. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Published online 2000:313-325. doi:10.1023/a:1005188108461