Autonomy = having independence or freedom
Is there anything teens crave more than autonomy? The desire to do what you want in a manner of your choosing.
This is an extremely good thing. Teens should be taking control of their lives to become who they want to be–to become Autonomous Teens. Who cares more about how your life turns out than you do?
There are two primary forces that may be holding you back from taking control:
- Your parents
Your parents holding you back
Until recently, you have relied on your parents for being responsible for your development and organizing your daily activities. You and your parents have have grown into your roles over many years. Your parents are probably quite comfortable with their role, but you are probably becoming less so as your natural desire for independence grows. Parents will need to be convinced you’re ready for more independence, then probably proceed cautiously.
You holding you back
You feel the need for independence, but likely don’t have much experience being autonomous. So your attempts at increased autonomy may emphasize the freedom aspect while minimizing the responsibility aspect. This scenario generates frustration with parents who have invested much effort in your development, and know they will have to wrap up any loose ends. There is also the “how do I know what to do” question.
The great news is that the answer to both forces holding you back is straightforward: Get started by demonstrating you are capable of being in charge.
- Build your reputation by planning your future
- Take responsibility for what you do everyday
- Experience the joy and frustration of knowing your successes and failures are the result of your actions.
We’ll talk more about how to plan your future in another post. For now, start by making commitments and honoring them (e.g. schoolwork, waking up, cleaning up, being on time, etc.). These honored commitments will go a long way toward convincing parents (and you) that you are ready for ever increasing autonomy. Oh, write down your honored commitments so you’ll be able to make a strong case for yourself when you ask for increased autonomy in the near future.
- You’ll feel great as you see your responsibility and independence soar.
- You’ll avoid the frustration some teens experience when they become caught in a cycle of confrontation with parents.
- You’ll embark on a path of designing your life exactly the way you want.
Nick Goepper is a great example of a teen who designed his life to become a professional skier—he recently won the Sochi 2014 Olympic slopestyle skiing bronze medal. Your interests may be different than Nick’s, but designing your life to achieve your ambitions is just as achievable. Our next articles will be about how to get started planning your life—please sign up for updates in the box to the right so you’ll be notified when they are published.
Check out this video to see how Nick “makes his art”