How do you set boundaries with your teen?

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Answered by: Lisa, An Expert in the Parenting Troubled Teenagers Category

Set Boundaries with Your Teen

My formerly troubled teen and I have been working so hard on our relationship, which is based on trust and mutual respect—like adults would have. I work like a madwoman to not get angry over the small stuff because it gets me nowhere with her and does very little for me.

We recently (I’m talking in the last few days) moved from a rented townhouse to our own home. I worked very hard to make this happen and handled every last detail by myself. I didn’t expect my daughter to help me with much other than packing her room and transporting her cats to the new house. My expectations were low, not because I didn’t want help or was afraid to ask, but because she has two jobs and has been totally exhausted. I’m very type A and would probably re-do anything she did anyway.

So here’s the subject of this post: I screwed up. I didn’t think I was at the time, but I realize now her point of view.

She asked me to get her jeans out of “the car” to wear to work and I misunderstood her to mean HER car. Now, I’ve been peeking into her car and noticing what a pigsty it is, and asked her dozens of times just to throw away the trash. She said she would, did, was planning on it, forgot…all the normal teenager responses…and it made me crazy. I asked if I could clean her car and she turned me down. So I thought when she told me to go to her car that she was sort of indirectly giving me permission to clean. It was moving day, she was getting ready for work, and I was waiting for the movers to finish up, and was happy (more like thrilled) to tidy up her car. I got a giant bag of trash and another one with clothes and shoes and ANOTHER one with miscellaneous whatevers.

I ended up removing something she needed for work and her wallet with her driver’s license, and she was BLAZING mad. She called me from the road to chew me out. Then she texted me in capital letters about how I disrespected her, that she works so hard to pay for her car, and she gets to keep it any way she pleases. That I stepped over the line.

She was absolutely right. I should have minded my own business. That IS her car, that IS her domain, she DOES work hard, and she has every right to make those decisions. I certainly wouldn’t want her rummaging through my things and removing them without my permission.

She calmed down that evening and we talked about it. She accepted my apology and my promise to respect her space and her in general. I felt terrible (still do) and realize that she really helps me be a better parent and a better person. I am grateful that she is as forgiving as she is because, many times, girls like her hold an angry, steadfast grudge.

Set boundaries with your teen? It goes both ways.

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