Parenting Teenagers: Why I Don’t Make Rules


Every now and then, I stumble across a blog post containing a long list of rules for keeping teenagers safe from the dangers of the world.

Teenagers may not be happy to abide by some of these rules, but does that matter? Parents might say:

“We have to lay down the rules even if our children protest. Parenting isn’t about being popular.”

“Sometimes we have to be tough because we love.”

“It’s not easy, but we can’t side-step our parenting duty.”

“We have to be parents to our teenagers, not friends.”

“Rules might lead to some battles, but that’s to be expected. It’s part of keeping our kids safe.”

“It’s just what we have to do.”

Parents who make rules are seen to be responsible. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep their kids safe.

But do rules actually work? And if they don’t, what else can we do? Is there a better way of protecting our teenagers from danger? I think there is.

In today’s video, I talk about rules and why I don’t make them, and what I’m doing instead with my children.

If you’d like to hear my daughters’ opinions about teenagers and rules, please listen to:

Podcast 11: Teenagers, Rules, and Rebellion
Podcast 19: Keeping Teenagers Safe from the Dangers of the World.

I mentioned a blog post in my video. I have to confess I began editing it again (I’m never satisfied!) and the post got into a big mess. Perhaps I’ll rewrite the post another day. In the meantime, you might like to read some of my other posts about teenagers.

If you watch my video, thank you! And if you’d like to stop by and share your opinion, please do. You could also come over to our Facebook group, The Not  So Proper Unschoolers, where we’ve been discussing this topic. 

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    • Anna
    • September 29, 2016

    Thank you Sue, I found this video very helpful and inspiring.
    Did your older children notice a change in your parenting style? Did you discuss it with them?
    Was it difficult to make those changes ie. trusting, strewing in hope they are interested, connecting their day to day interests with outcomes for reporting?

    1. Reply


      We arrived at unschooling unexpectedly. I changed the things we were doing very gradually and so there was time for all of us to adjust. We didn't make a conscious decision to unschool so it wasn't like I suddenly said, "We're going to be unschoolers," and then expected my kids to cope with a different way of doing things.

      As far as rules goes, most of the rules I insisted my first child abide by were things relevant to girls such as the type of clothes she could wear. My next two children were boys and these rules didn't apply to them. They weren't interested in clothes at all! At that time, we only had one computer between us and slow dial-up Internet. None of us had mobile phones. We didn't even have TV at one point because we didn't have TV reception. I suppose it was easy not to make too many rules. But I still had to work on respecting my kids, listening to their opinions, not imposing mine upon them, trusting… My parenting style changed gradually too because it wasn't possible for me to change overnight. I needed lots of practice and I failed lots of times before I started to get things together! (I still make mistakes!)

      Homeschooling record-keeping used to be a lot easier than it is today. For many years, all I had to do was prove my kids were learning something from each of the Key Learning Areas. They didn't have to learn specific things. And I didn't have to link their learning to the school outcomes. All that changed a few years ago. Because we have been homeschooling for a long time (25 years) I probably feel more confident with dealing with the education department than I would if we were just starting out. I'd rather not have to keep meticulous records, but as long as we are able to both unschool and get through the registration process, I'm willing to put the time and effort into it.

      Thank you so much for watching my video. I'm glad you found it helpful!

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