Get out of my room!-River City Counseling

The age varies, but at some point almost all parents hear a resounding “get out of my room” from their kids.  Cuddly children who like to hang out and share openly about their days, turn into aliens who sigh, roll their eyes, and mumble one word answers when you ask innocently about their days.  Then they head directly to their rooms, not heard from again until dinner.

After getting over the shock from the drastic change, parents wonder if their kids’ behavior is normal.  As you might guess, the answer is a resounding “YES!”  Your family is no longer the center of your kid’s life.  Instead, it’s the peer group that reigns supreme.  Your child would much prefer social media and texting friends, in order to receive word of crucial happenings in real-time, to sitting and chatting with you.

The reason for this is simple.  Developmentally, your teens are preparing for adulthood, when they’ll have to navigate the majority of life’s challenges on their own (or with the help of peers/romantic partners.)  To prepare for this, they need to have a sense of their own space and autonomy, and it’s difficult to do this when they spend all their spare time with you and turn to you for answers to all life’s problems.

With this in mind, it’s pretty tempting to put in your ear buds when they come in the door and vacuum until you hear the door to their room close.  And on some days, that’s probably your best option. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re still members of the family, and they’re expected to be present and participate in family activities, both inside and outside the house.  In addition, remember that they’re not yet adults and still need your guidance, which they won’t get if they spend all their time in their rooms.

When you’re at loggerheads daily with your teen over how much time they spend in their room, it’s time to have a talk about your concerns.  Both acknowledge your teen’s need for space and share your expectations that he not hole up in his room all day and night.  Have in mind what you need (e.g. dinner as a family, watching shows together, etc.) and listen to his thoughts and feelings.  If teens feel that their needs for space and autonomy are being considered and respected, they’re usually open to being reasonable.  It can be a win-win for everyone.

This is my first in a series on your teen’s bedroom.  In the future, I’ll cover topics such as should you demand that her room be clean?  Is it ok to put on or take off a lock from their door?  Should I worry about the video games, television set, etc. in his room?  And more…  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

 

 

 

11 Responses to Get out of my room!-River City Counseling
  1. elizabeth
    February 1, 2013 | 4:38 pm

    Excellent article…..It’s passages for the young person and also for the parents…Also as a grandmother it applies. For many years I would spend one day a week babysitting. But as the children have become teens, my role has lessened. For a while it was sad but I am now getting used to having wonderful ,less frequent visits. Also once in a while I get an email from the grandchildren and that makes my heart sing.

    It also opens up some thought about aging for grandparents. When they are less needed and perhaps have retired from the business world it is challenging to do meaningful things, rather than just hanging out. Friendships can be very rewarding and volunteer or fundraising work can be very satisfying . Hobbies, organizing, good reading etc etc…..You now have the time to do almost anything you want……

  2. Laurie
    February 1, 2013 | 11:15 pm

    Thanks for the great article. I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

  3. Andrew S.
    February 4, 2013 | 6:53 pm

    Dude – Spot on. I spent much of my hs years doing bong hits in my room, but I was definitely prepared for college and adulthood because of my independence. I was, also, a little mellower. 🙂
    I enjoyed the piece. Peace.

    • Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel
      February 4, 2013 | 7:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I’d be curious what would have happened if your parents had been a bit more curious about what was going on. Perhaps you would have passed on the bong hits, while at the same time developing due to the room they gave you?

  4. Christine
    February 4, 2013 | 9:50 pm

    Great blog. I am the parent of a 14-year old girl, and am acutely aware from my own experience of what happens behind a closed bedroom door. My parents allowed me to lock mine, and I spent most of my teen years discovering my own body, not to mention those of a couple boys who lived up the street. In contrast to the reader above, I was putting everything to my lips except a bong. For this reason I am pretty strict with my own child. I have removed the lock from her door, no iPod after 7pm, and I don’t allow her boyfriend to sleep over unless its the weekend and I am home. Times are changing, and as parents we have to change with them. I don’t think there is any such thing as being “too strict”.

    • Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel
      February 5, 2013 | 12:43 am

      Thanks for your addition. You make some great points. I’m curious where her boyfriend sleeps when he stays over. Also, I encourage you to watch for my future blogs in this series, as I’m going to discuss issues like locks, media, etc. So as to not miss it (and to see my previous blogs,) I encourage you to subscribe, which you can do by joining my mailing list on my website: http://www.rivercitycounseling.com.

      • Gerald V.McKenna,LMHC
        February 5, 2013 | 4:22 am

        My only caution is my knowledge that parents have a responsibility to get their kids out into the world CLEAN AND SOBER! Unfortunately too many parents ignore this responsibility OR WORSE—when drugs/alcohol are present? or maybe? or suspected ? they go to one extreme or the other—-too strict, become cops OR ignore this killer and it will go away! However, all parents should inspect their child’s everything periodically—bedrooms, all draws, backpack texts, notes—– BECAUSE IT’S YOUR JOB TO KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT THE CHILD IS NOT INTO DRUGS/ALCOHOL. You can explain that to your child or not but regardless DO IT! too little too late leads to abuse and then addiction with the toll on the child beyond your wildest nightmare.

        • Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel
          February 5, 2013 | 8:38 pm

          Thank-you for your thought provoking response. It’s such a tough balance. Of course, we want our kids to enter the world drug free. At the same time, periodic checks of the things, without suspicion of them using drugs can bring unintended consequences, if they aren’t using. Tough issue, though. Thanks again for your comment.

  5. Ama Reyes
    February 5, 2013 | 6:36 pm

    Excellent! You help me in how to express my thoughts and clarify differences in point of views when working with families and teens. It is interesting also take into account generational gap and cultural differences in role expectations. I work more often with traditional Latino families with children being born in the USA, which means we have traditional points of view in raising children and more contemporary-western style from the acculturated or assimilated teens. Thank you for your lines. I can’t wait to read more.

    • Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel
      February 5, 2013 | 8:30 pm

      Thanks for your kind response and for sharing the challenges you face with native born children of immigrants. Thought provoking…

      I also encourage you to look at my other blogs on my website: http://www.rivercitycounseling.com. If you like them, I encourage you to join my mailing list on my website, so you’re notified when I post.

      Thanks again!

  6. christina
    February 7, 2013 | 8:25 pm

    Thanks, Steve! I had been very perplexed by my teens’ desire for privacy, but your article really helps me understand that this phase is normal.

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