Allow your student to take responsibility


I’ve been working with teenagers and their parents for more than 25 years. If I had a buck for every time I’ve heard what I am getting ready to tell you about, I could retire.

How the “we-parent” shows up

While the we-parent can show up in any number of ways, the most common subject is around school. Usually the we parent will say something like:

“We did not do well in school last year.”

“We got a D in geometry.”

“We skipped school today.”

Are you getting the pattern?

This is when I usually say something like:

“What a minute, what’s this ‘we’ stuff?”

The reason I make a big deal out of this is because the we-parent is usually over-involved in some way. With school and grades, the parent is usually encouraging and bugging the kid about school and the kid is resisting.

What to do?

The we-parent comes across as controlling and over-involved. It’s important to remember that the we-parent is motivated by love.

So the next step is to channel that love in a way that works. Many times what that looks like is putting the child in charge of school. So then the parent can then move on and deal with whatever area of life they have been avoiding with the we-parent role.

You can find more tips and tools for parenting your teenager at

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist. E-mail him at: [email protected] or visit his Web site at