Teenagers Do Not Always Want Freedom

teenager, what a teenager wants, teenage problems, parenting tips


Teenagers are a strange bunch. I’m discovering that more and more as mine navigates his teenage years. He talks a lot about having more freedom. My wife and I respond with the standard, “You have to earn it,” speech. But for all his talk about being older, more mature, and deserving respect and choices, sometimes he really wants the exact opposite.

I make breakfast for him each morning before he heads off to school. I’m gradually teaching him skills, like cooking, that he will need to fend for himself once he leaves the nest. But it’s important to me that he leaves the house with a content stomach, plus it gives us a little bit of father / son talk time that is harder and harder to find these days.

I’ve gotten in the habit of asking him what he would like to have for breakfast. Sometimes he rattles off something immediately, sometimes he has to think about it a bit, but many times he simply shrugs his shoulders. The last scenario usually strikes me the wrong way, putting me in a foul mood because having an argument about what to make usually results in more time spent arguing about breakfast than making or eating breakfast.

I gave up on giving my son a choice for breakfast.

Instead of waiting to ask him what he wants, I just choose for him and make it. When he comes downstairs ready for the day I set two plates down on the table. One for him, and one for me. He thanks me, we sit down, and we talk while we eat breakfast together.

He hasn’t complained once about what I made him for breakfast.

Teenagers will test boundaries and demand freedom that they may or may not yet deserve. But deep down they know that they still need their parents. Sometimes they just want to feel the security of knowing their parents will take care of something for them. In a blink of an eye he’ll be graduating from high school and packing up his car to leave for college.

I’m willing to give him that security and comfort just a little while longer.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Have you noticed this same phenomenon with your teenager? Or do you remember feeling this way as a teenager?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • If it’s choosing between two items that he likes, chances are it’s probably just unimportant, as food during that period of life is just a means to an end. Hungry? Eat something. That’s pretty much it in the mind of a teenager, and then they move onto obsessing and stressing about more ‘important’ decisions.

  • We’ve found the same thing happens with money. Without it, teens feel the need to have the latest and greatest. When they have their own money and can buy what they need, things don’t matter quite as much.

    Teens and toddlers — it’s all about control and choices. Like Money Beagle said, if both choices are fine, there’s no need for control.

  • I don’t have kids myself, but man I wish my in-laws had figured some of this stuff out.

    They would make rules but be terrible about enforcing them. Of course, some of this was apparently because my husband was a pain in the ass. He’d just go out the window if they wouldn’t let him out the front door.

    But they needed to really respond — with something more than grounding, since clearly that meant nothing. Instead, he and his brother pushed and met very little resistance.

    He claims they couldn’t have stopped him no matter what. I tell him that teenagers are supposed to push limits. It’s up to the parents to figure out ways to keep those limits up.

    It teaches kids a respect for authority, social norms, etc. Instead, my husband grew up knowing he could do whatever he wanted. It really didn’t help him in life.

  • @MoneyBeagle – that’s probably true……many times he comes into the kitchen and says, “I’m hungry.” When I ask him what for, he says, “Food.” just need something to throw in the hole….lol.

  • @Tracie – Makes sense…I think they also tend to make different choices when it’s their wallet that is emptied. Even with soda… son is all about Mountain Dew, and Pepsi…but when he goes to the convenience store and buys with his own money, the less expensive generic brand will do just fine. 🙂

  • @abigail – oh, they could have stopped him…I know parents that nailed windows shut, and put locks on the outside of doors. Drastic behavior calls for drastic consequences.

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