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[May 17, 2007]  Q: My 13-year-old daughter and I seem to be fighting over everything. Since she's growing older, should I back off a little as the "authority figure"? Should we be becoming more like friends?

A: The simple answer is "no." Many parents make this mistake. They see that their children want more independence. They don't want to be told what to do. And often, some parents give their children what they want so they'll be happy and love them. These parents think that acting with authority -- telling kids what to do -- will alienate their children from them. Other parents simply want to be hip. They don't want to be seen as old and uncool.

The fact is, adolescents already have friends. They still need parents to support and guide them. They need limits and someone to make good decisions for them when they aren't able.

Remember that you are the parent and you are still in charge. This doesn't mean you need to be an ogre, but it does mean that you should:

  • Continue to set and enforce a limited number of rules. However, let your daughter have input into what the rules -- and consequences -- will be.

  • Gradually give your daughter more independence. Let her make decisions that affect her, and let her experience the consequences.

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  • Be willing to direct, not just advise. Advice is what friends give. It can be taken or not. Effective parents direct in a way that keeps their children's best interests upfront.

  • Share your thoughts, beliefs and values and be willing to discuss them. Listen carefully as your daughter shares her own thoughts, beliefs and values.

  • Share some of your concerns. You might even ask for help. But don't make your daughter responsible for reassuring you or fixing your problems.

Have fun together. Good parents can roll on the floor laughing! Children can even respect a little parental "craziness."

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute

[Text from syndicated column received from The Parent Institute

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